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Jonathan Littell, "The Security Organs of the Russian Federation. A Brief History 1991-2004". Psan Publishing House 2006.
The Security Organs of the Russian Federation (The text only)
A Brief History 1991-2005
By its very nature, the security apparatus of the Russian Federation is cloaked in secrecy. Any paper attempting to retrace its history and its structural evolution on the basis of open sources will inevitably prove to be, in places, vague, confused, uncertain, or just plain wrong. The organigrams I have attempted to draw suffer from the same flaws: the sources available were usually incomplete, divergent and even conflicting, and rarely referred to the same period; they should thus in some cases be construed as illustrating the general outline or the broad trends of the bureaucratic structures, rather than presenting an accurate picture at a precise moment.
This paper is intended more as a compilation of available information than as an analytical work. Consequently, it draws heavily on a number of secondary sources, whose authors have gone through the tedious but vital process of compiling and analyzing the primary sources available. Such sources, which vary widely in quality and usefulness, include:
I would like to acknowledge my debt, primarily, to the work of Mr. Gordon Bennett of the Conflict Studies Research Centre at Sandhurst; Mr. A.A. Mukhin of the Tsentr Politicheskoï Informatsii; and the Russian website www.agentura.ru. I have also in places leaned heavily on concepts and analyses introduced by Mr. Nikolai Petrov and Mr. Vadim Volkov; and my discussion of the final years of the USSR KGB owes a great deal to the work of Ms. Yevgenia Albats. Other sources used are listed in the bibliography.
List of Acronyms Used
1. The End of the KGB
Even as the Soviet regime was liberalizing and softening [?] the KGB was transforming itself from an instrument of state power to a state power in its own right.
? Ye. Albats, KGB: State Within a State
The KGB of the USSR ? ?the Monster,? as it was called ? was dismantled in the months following the failed August 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachev and his attempt at reforming the Soviet Union known as perestroika. The coup counted among its leaders many senior generals of the KGB, first and foremost Vladimir Kryuchkov, the last Chairman of the Committee. For these men, however, the coup was but a last-ditch attempt to avert a fate they had seen coming and sought to ward off for some time. The seeds of the breakup of the KGB were planted in the early 1980s by one of its most preeminent and effective leaders, Yuri Andropov (Chairman of the KGB 1967-82; General Secretary KPSS 1982-84). The KGB, the only organization in the country with both access to genuine data and the ability to analyze it, had come to realize by the end of Brezhnev?s long reign that the economic and technological gap with the West was growing, and that unless the trend could be reversed the USSR was doomed to lose the Cold War. General of the Army Filipp Bobkov, a key figure of the late KGB, put it succinctly in a 1990 interview: ?The KGB in 1985 understood very well that the Soviet Union could not develop without perestroika.?1 Andropov, during his brief tenure as General Secretary, thus began planning radical reforms intended, through a calculated policy of openness and economic restructuring, to attract foreign investment and technological know-how, while firmly maintaining the reins of political controls in the hands of the KGB and the KPSS (China, under Deng, was coming to the same conclusions at the same time; thanks however in large part to the ruthlessness shown by the Party at Tiananmen in 1989, it succeeded where the USSR failed in meeting this double objective). But Andropov died before he was able to implement his plan. The elite of the KPSS remained highly divided about the advisability of the radical moves proposed; a caretaker General Secretary, Konstantin Chernenko, already very ill, was nominated as a compromise figure while the two sides fought out the matter. As Chernenko lay dying, the Andropov camp pushed forward the nomination of Mikhail Gorbachev, the young Secretary of Agriculture of the Central Committee, an Andropov protégé;2 the old guard opposed to the reforms backed Grigory Romanov, the second youngest member of the Politburo and the Secretary of the Leningrad Party Organization. The ?reformists? won: on March 11, 1985, the day after Chernenko?s death, Gorbachev was elected General Secretary with a mandate to begin the programme of reforms devised by the KGB under Andropov. This programme was officially launched at the 27th Congress of the KPSS in February 1986, and initially comprised three main components: glasnost, or transparency, perestroika, or restructuring (reform), and uskorenie, acceleration (of economic development). It led within a few years to a liberalization of the economy, which the KGB both drove and took a broad advantage of. The process was mainly managed by the KGB?s infamous Fifth Main Directorate, created in 1967 by Filipp Bobkov to monitor and repress political dissent, together with the Sixth Main Directorate, tasked in the 1960s with fighting ?economic crimes? (i.e. private trade, called ?speculation? in the USSR).3 One Western report details the ?division of labor:? by the mid-1980s the Fifth Main Directorate had ?shifted its focus from monitoring political dissidents to manipulating dissident economists and reformers to create the perestroika economy,? while the Sixth Main Directorate began to concentrate on economic counterintelligence, economic security, and monitoring the fledgling ?cooperatives? created under perestroika.4 It also, of course, kept a close watch on the joint ventures set up to attract Western capital. But the two departments, together with the First Main Directorate (a.k.a. PGU, in charge of foreign intelligence), in fact secretly stood directly behind many of the new firms and joint ventures. ?According to my sources,? writes Albats, ?funds from the [KGB and KPSS] were used to found nearly 80% of the new banks, stock markets and companies.? KGB agents, she notes, had already acquired a great deal of commercial experience while setting up firms as ?covers? for illegals ?in countries with every variety of market economy imaginable.?5 Komsomol officials were also deeply involved, and it is no accident that a majority of the new ?oligarchs? of the 1990s were drawn from their ranks. This view of events was recently confirmed by a well-known former GRU Lieutenant-Colonel, Anton Surikov, who adds: ?It was impossible to work in the black market without KGB connections and without protection from the KGB. Without them, no shadow business was possible. ? There was a conscious creation of a black market. The creation of the oligarchs was a revolution engineered by the KGB, but then they lost control.? Surikov however sees the creation of a new class of businessmen as the result of a ?battle for power? between the KGB and the Communist Party, not of their cooperation as Albats argues: ?The ? Party was heading into a dead end, and the people from the Fifth [and Sixth] Directorate saw that a new impetus was needed. This was how perestroika was started.?6
The KGB and Gorbachev?s ambitious programme, however, unraveled within a few years. Glasnost had allowed nationalist demands, forcefully suppressed until then, to emerge in dozens of ?hot spots? around the Union; by 1989, this led to mass demonstrations, clashes with the authorities, and inter-ethnic rioting and mass killings, probably in several cases provoked or at least encouraged by the KGB.7 By the end of the year, the USSR, having pulled out of Afghanistan, had also allowed all of East Europe to go in a wave of ?democratic revolutions.? At the center of the Empire, Boris Yeltsin, whom Gorbachev had sacked from the Politburo in 1987 for his outspoken criticisms, had gotten elected to the Congress of People's Deputies and was preparing his forceful return to the political scene. Yet, as the USSR came apart at the seams, Gorbachev ? unlike his Chinese counterparts ? shied from resorting to violence and repression to keep the lid on; the KGB?s brutal but half-hearted interventions, such as in Tbilissi on April 9, 1989, or in Vilnius on January 12, 1991, proved both inadequate and counter-productive, and served only to accelerate the process of disintegration. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the overthrow of the East European communist regimes, which was accompanied in some countries by the killing of security service agents and the sacking of agency headquarters, shook the KGB leadership. In December 1990, Vladimir Kryuchkov legalized the KGB?s commercial ventures by signing a decree forming KGB commercial structures. As the breakdown of the USSR gained momentum, vast amounts of KPSS capital fled the country through these structures. Albats quotes an August 1990 secret memo entitled ?Emergency Measures to Organize Commercial and Foreign Economic Activity for the Party:?
Reasonable confidentiality will be required and in some cases anonymous firms will have to be used disguising the direct ties to the KPSS. Obviously the final goal will be to systematically create structures of an ?invisible? Party economy along with commercializing available Party property. Only a small group of people may be involved in this work.
As Albats notes, the author of this memo, the KPSS?s administrative director Nikolai Kruchin, committed suicide ?under mysterious circumstances? along with one of his trusted aides, shortly after the failed August 1991 coup, taking a great deal of information about these secret arrangements to his grave.8 It seems however that from the very start a great deal of this capital flight took place in a completely uncontrolled manner. Rather than provide a basis for a future counterrevolutionary effort, as some may have hoped, the money was in most cases grabbed by whoever had access to it, and some of it probably served as the seed money for a few of the extraordinarily rapid fortune-buildings of the 1990s.
The late Soviet security apparatus
The USSR KGB, in the run up to August 1991, remained a formidable organization. At its head sat a Collegium of senior generals whose Chairman, Vladimir Kryuchkov, reported directly to the Politburo. This Collegium controlled the central apparatus; the Republican State Committees; and the UKGBs in every Autonomous Republic, Krai and Oblast of the USSR. The central apparatus was divided into a number of directorates and departments, of which the most important were:
The central apparatus controlled, in 1991, 420,000 employees; of these, over 200,000 were soldiers serving in the Border Troops. The KGB was the only organization in the USSR, outside of the Armed Forces, to control military units (the Interior Troops were indeed subordinated to the MVD, but remained part of the Armed Forces until 1992). The KGB also had at its disposal two elite commando units: ?Alfa? and ?Vympel.? Alfa, formally known as Antiterrorist Group ?A? under the 7. Main Directorate of the KGB, had been set up in 1974 by Yuri Andropov, following the killing of Israeli athletes in Munich during the Olympic Games, to give the KGB the capacity to respond to such incidents on its own territory. The post-1991 pattern of deploying Alfa for missions far exceeding its formal scope was in evidence from the very start: it was employed for the first time in the storm of the Kabul Presidential Palace in December 1979, during which the Afghan Communist leader, Amin, was killed. Vympel was set up in the late 1970s as a ?diversionary unit? to conduct special operations on foreign territory, and was formally known as Directorate ?V,? placed under the PGU, though only the Chairman of the KGB could authorize its operations.
On May 6, 1991, shortly before being elected President of the RSFSR, Boris Yeltsin, following a decision of the Congress of People?s Deputies, obtained the formation of a RFSFR KGB, signing a protocol with Kryuchkov. Until then, the fourteen other Soviet Republics had each had their own Republican KGB (which remained however tightly controlled by the central KGB in Moscow; all forms of dual subordination, even to the Politburo of the Republican Party, were strictly avoided). Only in the RFSFR were the regional KGB directorates (UKGBs) run directly out of the central KGB. The new organism, which was placed under the leadership of Lt.-Gen. Viktor Ivanenko, had the status of a Republican State Committee like the other fourteen. Until the failed Coup, however, it remained an empty shell: Ivanenko, at first, controlled only two deputies and twenty agents; the regional directorates, especially the powerful Moscow city and Moscow oblast UKGB, remained directly subordinated to the central KGB until fall 1991.
The Internal Ministry (MVD) was a far weaker power structure than the KGB, but by the end of the 1980s was no longer a negligible force either. In 1954, following the death of Stalin and the liquidation of Beria and his cronies, the NKVD had been broken up and the security police separated from the regular police; the diminished MVD, though an All-Union Ministry, had from the start far less clout than the Union-Republic State Committee for State Security (KGB). The MVD was further weakened in 1960 when Khrushchev abolished the central Ministry and handed all police functions over to Republican Ministries, renaming them in 1962 Ministries for the Preservation of Public Order (Ministerstvo Okhrany Obshchestvennogo Poriadka ? MOOP) and further restricting their functions. As crime rose, though, the regular police came under increasing criticism; starting in 1964, after Khrushchev?s overthrow, Brezhnev began rebuilding the police, raising MOOP to All-Union Ministry status in 1966 and renaming it MVD in 1968. Strong efforts were made to upgrade the personnel, training and equipment of the police, but corruption and inefficiency remained massive. In 1983, Andropov, as part of his anti-corruption drive, ordered the KGB to reassert control over the MVD; Nikolai Shchelokov, Brezhnev?s Interior Minister, who had been sacked as soon as Andropov took power, was arrested and tried on corruption charges, along with many other senior Brezhnev-era officials ? including Brezhnev?s son-in-law Yuri Churbanov, a First Deputy Interior Minister. At this time, the MVD was in charge of a broad range of bodies: the ordinary police (tasked with maintaining public order and policing drunks), the criminal police, fire brigades, the traffic police, the internal passport and registration service, the Soviet prison and labor camp system (managed by GUIN, the Main Directorate for the Enforcement of Punishments, formerly GULag), and, until 1988, special psychiatric institutions (psykushki). Nonetheless it remained mostly helpless when faced with the new challenges brought about by the corruption of the Brezhnev years and the overall degradation of the Union, ?omnipresent and powerless,? in the words of a French scholar.10 Throughout the 1980s, new branches and units were created in attempts to give the MVD more teeth. In the late 1970s already, MVD had gained two counterterrorist units, RSN (Special Purpose Company) and OMSN (Specialized Purpose Police Detachment); company-sized at first, they grew to battalion size under Gorbachev. In the 1980s, faced with the rise of the informal, illegal economy, the MVD set up, on the basis of a pre-existing structure, its first genuine economic police, the GUBKhSS. As its name, Main Directorate for Combating the Theft of Socialist Property and Speculation, indicates, its conceptual and legal framework somewhat handicapped its ability to grapple with the rise of capitalistic initiatives in the USSR. In 1988 Aleksandr Gurov, the leading Soviet specialist on organized crime, brought about the creation of the shestoi otdel (6th Department of the MVD, renamed GUOP and then GUBOP after 1992 ? see Fig. 6 below), tasked with the struggle against organized crime; again, its successes were limited, as its adversaries, both the traditional Soviet vory-v-zakone (?thieves-in-the-law? or ?thieves-under-the-code?) and the rising generation of ?violent entrepreneurs,? were evolving and adapting much faster to the changing conditions than the bureaucratic repressive apparatus of the Soviet state could follow. As glasnost and perestroika generated massive strikes, riots, and bursts of intercommunal violence, the Internal Troops, lightly armed regiments, supposedly better trained than Army forces but nonetheless also made up of conscripts, were deployed to quell public unrest, with often disastrous results. Finally, in 1987, the MVD created the OMON, Special Designation Police Detachment, organized somewhat like the American SWAT teams, and tasked with dealing with ?terrorist incidents, serious criminal activities and the ?maintenance of public order?;? their repressive activities in the Baltic states in the last years of the USSR, which caused civilian casualties, gained them much notoriety both within the Union and abroad.11
A last institution that should be mentioned is the General Procuratura, which not only prosecuted cases in court but had broad investigative powers that supplemented those of the MVD and KGB. In principle, all criminal cases opened by either MVD or KGB had to be turned over to the Procuratura for prosecution; the Procuratura could also supervise other agencies? investigations, and intervene if these were being conducted illegally. In practice however the Procuratura had no hold over the KGB, and the KGB often investigated and arrested people outside the established legal system, detaining them in its special prison at Lefortovo. The Procuratura also had no control over the Glavnaya Voennaya Prokuratura, the Main Military Procuratura with jurisdiction over all members of the Armed Forces, which remained subordinated to the Ministry of Defense.
After the Coup: the last four months
The failed putsch of August 1991 brought about the immediate breakup of the KGB. As stated, a number of senior KGB officials participated directly in the attempt: besides Kryuchkov, one of the main organizers of the coup along with Interior Minister Boris Pugo, officials involved included Col.-Gen. Geni Agayev, First Deputy Chairman, Lt.-Gen. Anatoli Beda, Head of the 8. Main Directorate, who cut off all of Gorbachev?s communications in his Crimean dacha, and Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Medvedev, Gorbachev chief bodyguard.12 A great many other KGB generals did not participate actively but had advance knowledge of the attempt and approved, waiting however to see if it would succeed before declaring their loyalty: Col.-Gen. Viktor Grushko, another First Deputy Chairman, for example, participated in the planning of the attempt but then stood back when it was set in motion. When Gorbachev returned to Moscow, on August 21, purging and reforming the KGB was his first priority. He nominated Grushko Acting Chairman for a few hours, and then the Head of the PGU Lt.-Gen. Leonid Shebarshin, who had not taken part in the coup (though his chief deputy did). But Boris Yeltsin, who unlike Gorbachev did not want to reform the KGB but dismantle it, bitterly opposed Shebarshin?s nomination; after two days, Gorbachev and Yeltsin were finally able to agree on Lt.-Gen. Vadim Bakatin, a career Kemerovo KPSS official who had briefly served as Interior Minister (from October 1988 to December 1990), initiating controversial reforms during his tenure. Gorbachev and Yeltsin?s objectives strongly diverged: while Gorbachev wanted to weaken the KGB yet maintain the USSR intact, Yeltsin, already aiming to dismantle the Union as part of his strategy against Gorbachev, hoped that breaking up the USSR KGB would weaken Gorbachev?s overall control over the country, as well as reinforce his RSFSR KGB.
Bakatin immediately plunged into his task: three days after his nomination, he produced five separate reform plans for the KGB. But implementing them proved difficult. Bakatin was able to rapidly transfer KGB military units to the Armed Forces, which had overall played a positive role during the coup; but purging the leadership proved a far more complex task: so many senior cadres had, if not actively participated, at least sympathized with the coup, that firing all of them would have gutted the organization. In the end Bakatin only purged those who had openly participated in the August events; the fence-sitters were retained, as there was no one to replace them. Already, pieces were coming off the KGB: on August 29, the 8th, 12th and 16th Directorates were separated to form the KPS USSR, the Government Communications Committee under the leadership of General of the Army Aleksandr Starovoytov, Beda?s deputy at the 8. Main Directorate. Yeltsin also began getting pieces of the KGB under his control: on September 3, part of the 9. ?Guards? Directorate was broken off to form the SBP RSFSR, the Security Service of the President of the RSFSR. Yeltsin entrusted its leadership to his personal bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov, who as a 9. Directorate officer had protected him since 1985, and who had left the KGB to continue working for him without pay when he was sacked from the Politburo in 1988; during the putsch, Korzhakov had faithfully stood by Yeltsin, organizing the defense of the White House and holding up an armored suitcase in front of his boss during the famous ?tank speech.? On September 26, Yeltsin finally gained control of the Moscow city and oblast UKGB, which passed under the control of the RSFSR KGB. Numerous USSR KGB officers also transferred to the RSFSR KGB. By December, Ivanenko?s organization controlled 20.000 officers in the regional directorates, including the crucial Leningrad UKGB, and 22.000 officers in Moscow.
The USSR KGB was abolished on October 24, 1991, by a decision of the USSR State Council (signed into law by Gorbachev on December 3). Four agencies were formed in its place (see Fig. 1 below). The KPS, in charge of all special communications, signal intelligence (SigInt), and electronic intelligence (ElInt) already existed since August 29. The PGU (without Vympel) broke off to become the TsRS USSR, the Central Intelligence Service; its new leader was the respected KPSS stalwart, Academician and Arab world specialist Yevgeny Primakov, who had replaced Shebarshin a month earlier when this later resigned in disgust at Bakatin?s management and sharing of secrets with the USA. The Border Guards also became an independent agency named the KPO, the Border Guards Committee. Finally, some of the most important KGB Directorates, in whole or in part, were amalgamated to form the MSB USSR, the Interrepublican Security Service, of which Bakatin retained the leadership. The feared and despised 5. Main Directorate (now Directorate ?Z?) was disbanded and its staff scattered, though many remained in the MSB?s Anti-terrorism department.13
The ongoing conflict between Gorbachev and Yeltsin was mirrored in the conflict between the various services being formed. Viktor Ivanenko, the Chairman of the RSFSR KGB, had supported Yeltsin during the coup; now, he did everything he could to accelerate the breakup of the KGB, constantly sniping at Bakatin. Viktor Barannikov, who was briefly named Interior Minister to replace the disgraced Boris Pugo, also sided with Yeltsin; together with his deputy and close colleague Viktor Yerin, a career police investigator from Tatarstan who had served as Interior Minister in Armenia while Barannikov held the same position in Azerbaidjan, he conducted the investigations and arrests of several senior putschists (including his former boss Pugo, who managed to commit suicide before being taken in) before being replaced, a month later, by Andrei Dunaev. Yerin, who as one of the first senior MVD officials to leave the Communist Party (in May 1991) had been a leader of the ?de-partization? movement within the state organs, remained First Deputy Interior Minister; in the fall, he came into violent conflict over a number of issues with Aleksandr Gurov, the organized crime specialist, causing this latter?s departure from MVD. Bakatin and his MSB, on their side, were finding it extremely difficult to regulate their relations with the Republican Committees, most of whom, isolated and directionless, soon found themselves either in open conflict with the republican leadership (especially in the Baltic states), or at least strongly dependent on them. Yeltsin?s camp did not help matters with its aggressive language: at the end of August, already, Ivanenko was declaring ?that ?the use of special services, including espionage services? could not be entirely excluded if the relations between Russia and some of the republics reached a high ?state of virulence.??14 As Gorbachev tried to work out a new Union treaty over the fall, the MSB drew up elaborate plans for cooperation with the Republican KGBs, which included plans to transfer over 6,500 officials to the republics. None of these plans were ever implemented as the breakup of the USSR accelerated.
On November 26, Yeltsin signed a decree transforming the RSFSR KGB into the AFB RSFSR, the Federal Security Agency; Viktor Ivanenko remained its General Director. Gorbachev?s December 3 law ?On the Reorganization of the State Security Organs? did nothing to slow down the implosion of the Union: five days later, on December 8, 1991, at a secret meeting in the Belovezha forest in Byelorussia, Boris Yeltsin and the Presidents of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian SSRs, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislau Shushkevich, unilaterally decided the dissolution of the USSR. The fifteen Union Republics, whether they wished to or not, became independent states, most of whom soon formed a loose association baptized the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS or SNG in Russian); their local KGBs and power ministries also thus found themselves on their own.
Yeltsin, who for the past months had been calling in the name of democratic values for the dismantling of the KGB, reversed course as soon as he reached his objective and found himself the leader of an independent, sovereign state: on December 19 he decreed the merger of the MSB USSR, AFB RSFSR and the MVD USSR into a ?super-ministry? to be called the MBVD RSFSR, the Ministry of Security and Internal Affairs, and appointed as its minister Viktor Barannikov.15 Uniting the security and the police apparatus into one ministry was a recurrent temptation in the history of the USSR, but such a behemoth had proved disastrous in the past, not just from the point of view of civil liberties but also in terms of basic functional efficiency; by Stalin?s death, the various components of the NKVD in effect functioned as autonomous organizations, with little or no oversight; as discussed, the post-Stalin leadership hastened to break it up after the fall of Beria and Abakumov. Barannikov himself, who along with Yerin had strongly promoted the MBVD concept over the previous months, was anything but a democratic-minded reformer. Thankfully, the MBVD never came into being: on January 15, 1992, at the request of the Russian Federation Supreme Soviet, the RF Constitutional Court declared its creation illegal and invalid. Ten days later, on January 24, Yeltsin set up a separate MVD RF, under Viktor Yerin, and an MB RF (Ministry of Security) incorporating the AFB and most of the MSB, which he entrusted to Barannikov.
By this point, numerous other departments of the KGB had also undergone reorganization (see Fig. 1). At the end of 1991, parts of the 9. Directorate and the 15. Directorate were amalgamated into GUO RF (Main Protection Directorate), under Mikhail Barsukov, a veteran 9. Directorate official; both Vympel and Alfa, as well as Korzhakov?s SBP, were subordinated to the new agency. The bulk of the 15. Directorate, which controlled the numerous anti-nuclear bunkers scattered throughout Russia as well as the notorious special government metro system in Moscow (?Metro-2?), was formed into a new, ultra-secret service directly subordinated to the Presidential Administration and baptized GUSP (Main Directorate for Special Programmes). On December 12, 1991, the TsRS received some departments of the MSB and was renamed SVR RF (Foreign Intelligence Service); Primakov remained as Director. On December 24, the KPS USSR became FAPSI RF (Federal Agency for Governmental Communication and Information), still under Starovoytov. Around the same period the KPO USSR briefly became the KOGG RF (Committee for the Protection of the State Borders of the RF), though the Border Guards were soon placed back under the control of Barannikov?s MB. The Military Procuratura was subordinated to the civilian General Procurator, though effective control remained tenuous.
The Russian security organs born out of these reorganizations, fall into two categories: federal or samostoyatelnye (?self-standing? i.e. autonomous) agencies, such as GUO or FAPSI, and departmental (vedomstvennye) agencies which are subordinated to a ministry or an agency, such as GRU or the Border Guards before 1994 and after 2003. Under the 1993 Constitution, all the so-called ?power ministries? (Defense, Interior, Exceptional Situations (MChS), Justice as well as Foreign Affairs), their departmental security branches, and the samostoyatelnye federal services or agencies (FSK/FSB, which replaced the MB, SVR, FAPSI, GUO, GUSP, etc.) report directly to the President, who alone appoints their ministers or directors, and exercises control over them with very little oversight, whether governmental or parliamentarian. The Government and the Prime Minister remain in effect only responsible for economic and social questions, and only supervise the corresponding ?civilian? ministries or services.
Protecting the remains
The leadership of the KGB, after the failure of the coup, understood that measures would have to be taken to prevent the dissolution of the KGB from placing at risk what they considered the state security of whatever political entity would succeed the Soviet Union; though not all of these officials were ?Great-Russian patriots,? their allegiance, once the USSR was gone, in most cases remained with Russia rather than any of the other now-independent republics. For these officials, institutional survival was the key to weathering the transition set into motion by the failed putsch. The flight abroad of KPSS funds, through the network of KGB shell companies, has already been discussed. A further key issue was the security of the KGB archives: the looting of the STASI archives, after the fall of the Berlin wall, and the subsequent arrest and trial of numerous STASI officials, had shown what could happen if ?reforms? and ?popular revolutions? were taken too far. The Republican KGB archives were as important as the central ones: in the months after August, MSB officials successfully negotiated the transfer of most of these archives from the republics to Moscow, though many confidential files remained in the hands of local bosses, who squirreled them away for future use against their political opponents. Preserving the overall operational capacity of the services was also a vital concern. When Yeltsin?s RSFSR KGB gained control of the Moscow and Leningrad UKGBs, he appointed two men to head them who proved key to the survival of the KGB. The Moscow city and oblast Directorate was entrusted to Lt.-Gen. Yevgeny Savostyanov, a career KGB counterintelligence official; the Leningrad city and oblast Directorate was placed under the control of Lt.-Gen. Sergei Stepashin, an MVD political officer, VV officer, and since 1990 a RSFSR Supreme Soviet deputy, named Chairman of the Defense & Security Committee in 1991.16 Both men were presented at the time as committed democrats, chosen to reform and control the KGB; Stepashin had been named by both Gorbachev and Yeltsin to head the Commission to Investigate the Activities of the KGB during the Coup; Savostyanov, it was pointed out, had worked alongside Sakharov during perestroika. Some observers however paint a different picture. Aleksandr Litvinenko, a well-known FSB defector who was granted asylum in Great Britain in 2000, alleges in a book he co-wrote that
in fact ? both Savostyanov and Stepashin were first infiltrated into the democratic movement by the state security agencies, and only later appointed to management positions in the new special services, in order to prevent the destruction of the KGB by the democrats. Although, as the years went by, many full-time and free-lance officers of the KGB left to go into business and politics, Savostyanov and Stepashin did succeed in preserving the overall structure [albeit in decentralized form].17
Litvinenko?s claim appears validated by Stepashin?s subsequent career as one of Russia?s most prominent siloviki. We will see below that though Savostyanov fell from grace in 1994 (for picking the wrong side in a fight between Korzhakov and the businessman Vladimir Gusinsky), Stepashin consistently, until 1999, appears as the key figure in virtually all the efforts deployed to reform, strengthen or rebuild the FSB and the MVD. By the time Stepashin?s rival Vladimir Putin gained power, the ground had been laid for the rebirth of the Russian security empire.
2. The Early Yeltsin Years
The First Year
Barannikov?s Security Ministry was a more modest creation than the MBVD Yeltsin had dreamed of but retained considerable means. Its core was the formidable counterintelligence and military counterintelligence apparatus of the former KGB. It also retained the powerful Investigative Directorate, a key operational component; the Economic Security Directorate; the anti-terrorism Directorate, heavily staffed with former officials of the 5. Main Directorate, which would only grow in power over the coming years; and a number of directorates dedicated to combating smuggling, corruption and organized crime. Furthermore, the Border Guards were reintegrated under the control of the MB, putting a substantial armed force at its disposal (Vympel and Alfa remained under GUO). Last but not least, when FAPSI was formed, the MB was given the signals intelligence component of the KPS.
But the MB, compared with its predecessors, also suffered serious handicaps. Between September 1991 and June 1992, over 20,000 KGB officers resigned or were discharged, entering private business or joining one of the private security agencies sprouting up throughout post-Soviet Russia. With the collapse of the ruble in 1992, salaries fell to contemptible levels, encouraging the flight of senior cadres.18
Within the context of a new Russia in which dozens of ministries and agencies competed bitterly for scarce resources, the MB held nothing like the dominant position of the KGB. The KGB?s main tool of control over the Armed Forces, the osoby otdely (?special departments?) placed at every unit level and reporting directly to the KGB?s 3. Main Directorate for military counterintelligence, was gravely weakened, though it did remain separate from the military and highly secretive. In the first years of the 1990s, several plans were floated to transfer the osoby otdely to the GRU or even to form a Special Military Police, but these never materialized; the struggle for the control of military counterintelligence finally ended in 1993, though it was only made a fully samostoyatelnyi department of the FSB in 1998.19 The MB?s (and then FSK/FSB?s) Military Counterintelligence Directorate had many tasks: to fight corruption within the military, to search for spies, to prevent the sale of weapons or information (a particularly acute problem after the start of the Chechnya campaign), and to protect the secrecy of special objects such as submarines and military factories. After 1993 its powers slowly grew, though only under Putin were they restored to something approaching their former levels.
The quasi-monopoly on armed force the KGB had once shared with the military was irrevocably gone. The MVD of course had its VV, whose means and power increased as the Armed Forces? slumped, as well as its OMON and SOBR special units. But many other bodies, old or new, also acquired a military force: before 2003, there were fifteen state armed formations in Russia. The GUO with its SBP grew to over twice the size of the KGB directorates it had succeeded. The Railway Forces broke off from the Ministry of Defense along with significant finances and resources, ending up under the control of the Ministry of Transport. A new Ministry for Emergency Situations (MChS) was formed with its own armed units charged with civil defense tasks. Obscure agencies also gained autonomy, such as the Government Forestkeeper Service (GFS, first formed in 1796 under Pavel I), placed under the Ministry of Communications in November 1991. FAPSI, of course, had its own armed units, as well as the GUSP, which controlled some 20,000 men.20
More crucially still, the federal authorities as a whole had lost the monopoly over the use of force ? a key attribute of the modern sovereign State. Russia of course was confronted with the secessionist troops of General Dzhokhar Dudaev, the new President of the Chechen Republic, who had unilaterally declared independence from the Russian Federation and had acquired, in a secret deal with the Army, over half of the Soviet weaponry based in Chechnya, including some armor and a small Air Force (during this first period, there were as of yet no open hostilities, and the Chechens were in fact secretly collaborating with the GRU, sending several hundred fighters to Abkhazia to destabilize the Georgian regime of Eduard Shevardnadze). Throughout the Russian Federation, furthermore, purely criminal elements now controlled several hundred thousand armed and trained men, veterans of Afghanistan, MVD personnel,21 and other military or special service types washed afloat in the breakup of the USSR. For these gangs, in the chaos of the first period, access to weaponry and sophisticated communications equipment posed no problems: in a famous episode, on August 12, 1993, the Gerhat-Ural gang of Afghanistan veterans in Nizhnii Tagil hijacked a T-90 tank to threaten a rival Azerbaidjani gang; and Vadim Volkov also reports an episode in 1991 in which a gang hired a SU-17 jet fighter from an airbase to put a scare on a rival gang from Pskov.22
Midway between government agencies and criminal groupings, ?a long-term solution for the commercial use of the personnel and of the informational and technical resources of the KGB and MVD was found by legalizing the informal security and rule enforcement business.?23 On March 11, 1992, the law ?On Private Detective and Protection Activity? created and defined three types of private security agencies: ChDA (a private detective agency), ChSB (a private security service, or rather company), and ChOP (a private protection company). The ChOPs, independent firms, rapidly multiplied and entered into competition with the organized crime groups for the provision of protection to private business; they were most often formed ?according to a corporate principal of recruitment? on the basis of a given former security service, department, or group of veterans, and thus tended ?to preserve their corporate identity and resemble privatized segments of the state defense and security ministries.?24 The ChSBs, far less numerous, were in fact security subdivisions of major firms, and in a few cases literally formed ?private armies? of several thousand well-armed and trained men. The ChSB of Gazprom, headed by a former KGB colonel, employed 13,000 men; the Moscow Chechen businessman Umar Dzhabrailov hired Gorbachev?s bodyguard unit virtually entire; the ChSB of Vladimir Gusinsky?s Most financial group was headed by Filipp Bobkov, the former KGB Deputy Chairman and creator of the 5. Main Directorate, and with its extensive surveillance and analytical means in fact comprised a private secret service. In such a fragmented field, where it had to compete for power and resources not only with its rival agencies but also with its privatized components, the MB, at the start, was hardly in a position of strength.
The second coup and its consequences
1993 was dominated by the conflict between Boris Yeltsin and his Parliamentarian opposition, led by Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi and the speaker of the Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov. The struggle began in earnest in March; it soon became clear, as Barannikov made several ambiguous statements, that the MB was not supporting Yeltsin. On July 27, Yeltsin fired Barannikov for ?violations of ethical standards.? Deputy Security Minister Sergei Stepashin, Yeltsin?s closest supporter within the MB, proposed Col.-Gen. Nikolai Golushko, a veteran official of the 5. Main Directorate and the Chairman of the Ukrainian KGB from 1987 to 1991, to replace Barannikov. As Stepashin was still chairing the Supreme Soviet Defense and Security Committee, he was able to block all discussion of the nomination by the restive parliament, and Golushko was named Acting Minister in August; Stepashin, for his pains, was promoted to First Deputy Security Minister. A month later, the crisis reached a head. On September 21, Yeltsin dissolved the Supreme Soviet; Rutskoi and Khasbulatov barricaded themselves inside the White House and, in an action widely perceived as a second coup attempt, declared the formation of a new government, within which Rutskoi nominated Barannikov as his Security Minister. Yeltsin had already promoted Golushko to full Minister on September 18, and Golushko loyally, albeit ineffectively stood by him through the events. As the crisis degenerated into an armed clash in the center of Moscow on October 3-4, the MB, which apparently had not anticipated the putschists would resort to violence, mostly stood aside, allowing them to return to the White House after their incursions into several strategic buildings; as Savostyanov later admitted, the MB ??did not play its role in averting the events? because of unspecified legal constraints and the lack of in-house power structures.?25 Barannikov on his side was of little help to Rutskoi: though he worked the phones frantically and claimed to have rallied 7,000 officials to the putsch, only eighteen former KGB officials in fact joined him. Other agencies also remained passive: when ordered to storm the White House, the elite Alfa and Vympel units, subordinated to GUO?s Barsukov, openly refused. In the end Yeltsin was saved by Barannikov?s old partner, the MVD?s Yerin, who ordered VV units to attack the White House, and who was rewarded in return with a Hero of Russia medal and a place on the Security Council.
Yeltsin, as soon as the putsch was over, initiated a series of measures to punish and weaken the agencies that had failed him, and which he blamed for the disaster. On December 21, he signed a decree that abolished the MB and created a far weaker structure, the FSK (Federal Counterintelligence Service); this decree ?was followed by radical reforms amounting to purges.?26 Korzhakov?s SBP (Presidential Security Service) had already on November 11 been taken out of GUO and made samostoyatelnyi, reporting directly to the President. Alfa and Vympel were transferred to the MVD. Vympel was renamed Special Designation Group ?Vega,? and 345 out of its 350 highly trained officers resigned: 215 were reemployed by the FSK and other agencies, while the rest moved into private security, many to the ChOP ?Argus? created by former Vympel senior commander Yuri Levitsky, others to a new ChOP named ?Vympel-Chest?? (former Alfa commanders I. Orekhov and M. Golovatov also set up a chain of ChOPs, baptized ?Alfa-A,? ?Alfa-B,? ?Alfa-7,? and ?Alfa-Tverd?).27
The MB was in effect gutted (see, again, Fig. 1). It was downsized from 137,900 to 75,000 staff, with only 1,520 in the central apparatus; all officials were declared ?provisionally employed? until certified by a special commission; of the top leadership, only 13 out 227 passed and received an attestation. Many of the officers relieved of their duties were transferred to other agencies (SVR, FAPSI, GUO); several thousand went to the newly formed FSNP (Federal Tax Police Service), but 11,000 left state security permanently, to swell the ranks of the ChOPs, or of organized crime groups.
The change of status of the agency, from Ministry to Federal Service, removed it from all parliamentary control; the new FSK answered only to the President. It was to be a pure information-collection agency, able only to observe and report, and as such it lost most of its operational branches. The Border Guards were separated out to form a samostoyatelnyi agency, the FPS (Federal Border Guards Service) under the leadership of General of the Army Andrei Nikolaev; though the FSK retained a directorate for the provision of counterintelligence to FPS, the FPS was granted its own Intelligence Directorate and the right to conduct intelligence work, giving it a broad capacity as a special service. The Investigative Directorate, which drew its power from its right to send cases to court directly, without first handing them over to the General Procurator?s office, was now transferred to the control of the General Procuratura; a few months later, in the wake of Golushko?s departure, the FSK also lost the SIZO ?Lefortovo,? which was given to MVD. The MVD also got the MB?s antiterrorist and anti-organized crime directorates; the SigInt directorate was transferred to FAPSI, whose legal powers had already been boosted in February 1993, and which now employed, according to conflicting reports, either 53,000 or 120,000 staff. When the new Duma, dominated by the Communists and Zhirinovsky?s LDPR supporters, amnestied the arrested putschists in February 1994, Yeltsin asked Golushko to keep them in prison illegally; Golushko refused and resigned. He was replaced on March 3, 1994 by his First Deputy, Sergei Stepashin.28
Korzhakov and the SBP
While Stepashin would go a long way to restoring the FSK-FSB to a prominent position, the dominant spetssluzhba (?special service?) in 1994, and at least until 1996, was the SBP headed by Yeltsin?s old bodyguard and drinking crony, Aleksandr Korzhakov. Already by 1993, the SBP, which paid two to three times the salaries of the other services, had taken the cream of the KGB?s specialists; by the time the agency became samostoyatelnyi, it employed 750 elite staff.29 Korzhakov rapidly exceeded his limited mandate, using his proximity to Yeltsin to turn the SBP into a key player on the Russian political scene, with its own interests not always strictly subordinated to Yeltsin?s. The SBP?s new statutes, under the guise of protecting the President, gave it the right to conduct intelligence and counterintelligence activities, and Korzhakov took full advantage of this, infiltrating his people into nearly every federal ministry and accumulating, through surveillance and wiretaps, vast amounts of kompromat (compromising information) on most major politicians, businessmen and security officials; the widespread corruption in the government gave him easy access to this ?political currency.?30 His business activities were innumerable: at one point, for instance, he placed an SBP official at the head of the National Sports Fund, a purely commercial structure that had been granted tax exemptions on imports by Yeltsin and could thus rapidly generate massive profits. Under the guise of counterintelligence provision, he also succeeded in gaining control for the SBP, in part or in whole, over three vital and highly lucrative spheres: the export of oil, arms, and precious metals and stones. This was effected by taking control over the distribution of export quotas to private companies and even by establishing an SBP shell company for the export of oil, Rostoplivo. Additionally, in February 1995, the SBP established its supervision over the state precious-metal export company, Roskomdragmet, ?officially, to prevent illegal exports of precious state resources, in practice, simply to establish the SBP?s monopoly over this business.?31 Many allege that thanks to this system Korzhakov diverted vast sums, either for the SBP or for himself; it also gave rise to some highly publicized incidents, such as when under the pretext of fighting smuggling (normally the province of Customs, the Border Guards or other agencies) the SBP confiscated $3 million worth of jewels which had arrived in Moscow?s Sheremetevo-2 airport from London.
Korzhakov?s and the SBP?s status only continued to rise. On July 27, 1995, at the same time as GUO, the SBP was incorporated into the Presidential Administration, of which Korzhakov was thus made a Deputy Head. A few days earlier he had convinced Yeltsin to appoint his close friend Mikhail Barsukov, the head of GUO (whose son married Korzhakov?s daughter), as director of FSB in place of Sergei Stepashin (see below). The two men, together with First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, came to form a ?troika? of hawks that virtually ran the country for the following year. ?Not a single appointment, even the tiniest personnel change, could be made without Korzhakov,? says Emil Pain, an advisor to Yeltsin. ?Anyone who wanted to get something in the Kremlin first had to go and bow before him.?32 Korzhakov was granted even more extensive surveillance means, gaining the use though not the direct control of the former KGB 7. and 12. Directorates (surveillance and eavesdropping). On March 23, 1996, he was named to Yeltsin?s re-election staff, for which the SBP allegedly set up a secret, off-the-books fund. The height of his power came in April-May 1996, when he was made First Assistant to the President with a rank of Federal Minister, and actively increased the placement of his own men in key positions throughout the government. His fall however followed swiftly and dramatically. Yeltsin, after the first round of the elections, found himself forced, in order to defeat the Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov in the second round, to come to terms with his rival General Aleksandr Lebed and to put a lid on the conflict in Chechnya (which the ?troika? had actively fostered and encouraged). When Korzhakov triggered a public scandal by arresting and exposing two men working for the head of Yeltsin?s campaign, Anatoly Chubais, caught transporting a half-million dollars in cash, Yeltsin seized the opportunity to abruptly sack his old friend along with Barsukov and Soskovets, on June 20, 1996. (See Fig. 2 for an organigram of the FSO/SBP after the fall of Korzhakov).
Korzhakov?s activities during his brief period at the summit of power vividly illustrate the blurring of the public and the private sphere in post-Soviet Russia: it is impossible, in most of his actions, to distinguish between the interests of the Russian State, of Boris Yeltsin, of the SBP as a bureaucratic entity, or of Korzhakov himself. One should not however reduce Korzhakov?s activities to mere corruption: the issue is better addressed in terms of patrimonialism, a system under which an individual such as Korzhakov gains and maintains power through his ability to capture and redistribute resources, be they jobs, money, information, favors, or privileges.33 The ability to display and use force is of course another key component of the system. The infamous ?faces in the snow? incident that occurred on December 2, 1994 provides a very clear illustration of these dynamics. The story, as recounted by V. Volkov, can briefly be summarized as such: Yeltsin, upset at Vladimir Gusinsky?s alliance with his political rival Luzhkov, secretly ordered Korzhakov to put pressure on Gusinsky, ?to create an atmosphere around him as if the earth were burning under his feet.?34 At that time, the ChSB Most, 1,500 men strong, regularly displayed its force publicly when escorting Gusinsky through Moscow in a fleet of armored vehicles packed with armed men; under Bobkov?s leadership, it was actively collecting kompromat on the enemies and rivals of Gusinsky, whose HQ was located inside Luzhkov?s City Hall. The SBP, when it went after Gusinsky, decided symbolically to target the office of ChSB Most. After following Gusinsky from his dacha to the office, SBP officers ?performed a typical naezd? (in the language of organized crime groups, a ?run-over,? an often brutal demonstration of force employed to intimidate businessmen).35 Gusinsky?s security men were beaten and forced to lie face down in the snow for over two hours while the SBP aggressively searched the premises. Terrified, Gusinsky first called the Moscow RUBOP; when a team arrived, the SBP men showed their identification and the RUBOP officers promptly left. Gusinsky then called the head of the Moscow UFSK, Yevgeny Savostyanov, who immediately sent another team that started shooting in the air as soon as they arrived. A massacre was narrowly averted; SBP reinforcements then poured in and disarmed and arrested the FSB men. Savostyanov, whose position had already been weakened by failures in Chechnya, was sacked, and Gusinsky was forced to flee abroad until 1996, when he returned to help with Yeltsin?s re-election. As Volkov writes:
The SBP demonstrated its preeminence over other security organizations. [?] This event was unusual ? but did not differ very much from many other similar conflicts featuring local force-wielding organizations formally belonging to the state but used by local power holders to protect affiliated economic subjects or pursue their interests at the expense of various competitors. The Moscow incident attested not to the strength of the state but rather to its weakness. It demonstrated that a private security company with its office in the Kremlin was at that moment stronger than the company affiliated with the Moscow mayor?s residence at Novyi Arbat.36
This discussion leads us to a broader digression, on what Volkov has called ?the use of force in the making of Russian capitalism.?37 In the past few years a body of work has emerged both in Russia and the West that has made broad conceptual strides in redefining the nature of Russian ?organized crime.?38 This approach, which drew its concepts from research on the Sicilian mafia, has rejected the traditional normative approach (in which ?criminal? is defined as whatever is against the law) in favor of a more functionalist approach seeking to define the specific roles of different groupings within the overall economic and political system. Thus Volkov prefers to speak of ?the violence-managing agency,? be it a crime group, a ChOP, a ChSB, or a government agency. He defines krysha, ?the roof,? as ?agencies that provide institutional services to economic agents irrespective of the legal status of providers and clients. ? legal status is secondary to type of action and function in the economic realm.?39
The specificity of Russian ?organized crime? is linked to the origins of Soviet, and then Russian capitalism. Before Gorbachev?s law on cooperatives, in 1987, any form of private business was considered, from a legal and normative point of view, ?organized crime,? and fell under the purview of the GUBKhSS: it is thus not entirely surprising that organized crime, in turn, came to play a central role in the building of Russian capitalism. When small businesses were finally allowed to emerge, they were obliged to function within a legal system that lacked the most elementary framework for capitalist activity. It was at this point that groups of young thugs, usually either veterans of Afghanistan or sportsmen based around a given club, stepped in to offer ?protection.? While the initial approach was essentially predatory ? the groups milked the businesses for everything they were worth and moved on ? it was rapidly made to evolve. Some groups, as the Soviet Union declined and then collapsed, understood that far more money could be made if the businesses they ?protected? were allowed to thrive, grow, and continue paying a regular cut; as the system grew more sophisticated, these groups placed their own people on the boards or in various departments of businesses, or simply set up their own firms, thus fully ?legalizing? their activities. In fact, the ?violence-managing agencies? in the space of a very few years came to fill a crucial niche in the developing capitalist economy, a niche that does not exist in the West but was created here by the legal vacuum. They provided services absolutely vital for business?s ability to operate. The most important of these were contract enforcement and debt recovery: in the absence of a functioning court system able to render and enforce judgment, businesses had to rely on a ?violence-managing agency? to back up their business deals and ensure their partners would respect them. Krysha thus fast came to mean much more than simply ?protection.? The groups that insisted on maintaining a predatory approach soon withered away or were eliminated; as the services provided by the kryshy proved both crucial and highly lucrative, competition surged, and only those ?organized crime groups? that could move on to the next level survived beyond the very short term.
Already in the very early years who protected a business became a crucial component in the ability to do business; businessmen would not conclude deals with each other before knowing ? and verifying ? who their respective kryshy were; often the kryshy would meet before the deal was concluded to trade guaranties. Yet in spite of their dynamic approach organized crime groups proved unable to maintain a monopoly on the provision of protection for more than a very short period. After the March 1992 law legalized security agencies, these immediately became major players on the protection market. The law of supply and demand soon improved the position of business, now able to shop around for a krysha rather than be forced to accept the offer of the first group that walked through the door. The ChOPs created by former siloviki had definite advantages over organized crime groups, or even over the ChOPs set up by organized crime groups to provide a legal framework for their activities: ex-KGB or MVD officials, by maintaining contacts and good relations with former colleagues still in official positions, were able to offer a broader range of services to their clients than the unofficial groups. Businesses now expected their krysha to do a great many different things for them: solve problems with the tax authorities or the fire inspection, provide information on competitors, secure loans, and so forth.
Several different types of ?violence-managing? agencies thus came to compete on the protection market. Broadly speaking, by the second half of the 1990s, they fell into five categories:
A pattern thus emerged which has been analyzed by the Russian sociologist Vadim Radaev: by the end of the 1990s, he argues, one could establish a typology of businesses according to the type of krysha they employ.40 The more powerful or developed a business, the higher in the chain his krysha. Thus, according to Radaev?s data, organized crime groups have been entirely forced out of the high-end market by their more powerful official competitors, and mostly only provide krysha for vulnerable small businesses. Medium-sized businesses such as regional privatized state enterprises will frequently have good links to the local authorities and will work with an institution such as OVO for their protection needs. Private conglomerates or the biggest state enterprises will have their own ChSB, and often in addition will be able to call upon a branch of a major security agency, on a private basis, in case of need (Gusinsky?s recourse to RUBOP and the Moscow UFSB in December 1994 is a good example).
All the security organs of the Russian Federation are now, to some extent, involved in the krysha market, whether officially or not. The FSB, we will see further, has set up a body to coordinate its relationship to the major ChOPs born out of the organs. Though the ?Wild West? climate of the early 1990s is over, the notion of krysha, and of the correlative economic interests of the security structures, must still consistently be taken into account when attempting to analyze their actions.
The start of the Chechen war
The disastrous conflict launched in Chechnya at the end of 1994 by a physically diminished Boris Yeltsin and his siloviki cronies has played a major role in defining the evolution of the Russian security organs. It has proved the major security challenge of the Russian Federation in its brief existence; it has, in spite of all their failures, brought vast additional means to the security services; and in the end it has affected the very nature of the Russian state, placing it squarely in the hands of representatives of these services, whose vision of the world and the state remains profoundly shaped by their professional background.
In 1994, as tensions rose between Moscow and Groznyi and as the clan of the ?hawks,? Korzhakov, Soskovets, and Grachev, increasingly pressed Yeltsin for a forceful solution, the FSK remained a highly weakened player. Nine months after his nomination and just two weeks before the first Russian tanks rolled into Chechnya, Stepashin ? whose own attempt to solve ?the Chechen problem? by backing a Chechen Opposition assault on Groznyi had just failed ? admitted in an interview that ?the decisions taken ? to make the FSK a purely information gathering service were premature.?41 Stepashin, from the moment he took office, had started working to reverse these decisions. He had a few minor successes in his first year: in June 1994, he secured the creation of a crime-fighting division; by the fall, he had obtained the return of the Investigative Directorate from the General Procuratura, and by the end of the year that of the anti-terrorism and the organized-crime directorates from MVD. Stepashin also tried to boost the confidence, shaken by the purges, of the FSK?s staff, by signing a collective agreement with the FSK?s trade union organizations ?protecting the economic and social interests of the civilian personnel,? which guaranteed that ?all matters related to changing the FSK structure, its reorganization, and downsizing, will also be considered by the service?s management with direct participation of the trade union and subdivision management, and with mandatory participation of trade union committee representatives.?42
But in regards to Chechnya the FSK retained practically no capacity. From the moment they had taken power and declared independence, Dzhokhar Dudaev and his supporters had abolished the Chechnya-Ingushetia UKGB and launched an all-out war on its stay-behind assets. Dudaev?s DGB (Department of State Security), headed by Sultan Geliskhanov, a former traffic policeman, effectively succeeded in wiping out the Russian security services? capacity in Chechnya; Stepashin publicly conceded that ?the old KGB administration in Chechnya had been ?completely annihilated.??43 By 1994, the FSK as well as the GRU were only able to work in Chechnya through the armed Opposition to Dudaev, entrenched in their bastions north of the Terek and in Urus-Martan. The Federals? SigInt capacity was also extremely weak due to the collapse in funding of the agencies concerned. Nonetheless Stepashin and the FSK thought the Dudaev problem could be easily solved. As Gall & de Waal write,
bolstered by reports from the opposition, Stepashin?s agents supplied Yeltsin with highly misleading intelligence information about the state of Dudaev?s defenses. Stepashin ? says that the intelligence he was receiving led him to believe a small show of military force would be enough. ?It was reported to the President that it would need only two or three hours of military pressure, not even military force, to change the situation radically,? he said.44
Stepashin thus cooked up a plan in the fall of 1994 to have Dudaev overthrown by his own opposition, with armored backing provided by the FSK. He delegated the operation to his Deputy Director Yevgeny Savostyanov, who hired 47 tank crews on a contract basis from two divisions based near Moscow, without even their commanding officers being informed (the C-in-C of the Kantemirov Division later resigned because of this). The attack would take the form of a pincer movement, with 17 tanks moving out of Urus-Martan under the command of Bislan Gantemirov, and the other 30 coming down from the North via Tolstoi-Yurt to support the forces of Ruslan Labazanov and Umar Avturkhanov. The operation was a disastrous failure, and a number of Russian tank crews were captured alive by Dudaev?s forces and exhibited on television, publicly embarrassing the Russians who had denied providing any support to the Opposition. The fiasco severely undermined Savostyanov, who was sacked a week later in the wake of the ?faces-in-the-snow? episode. Stepashin survived, but was unable to influence the subsequent course of events. The Army, led by Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, who famously declared that ?if the Army had fought, we would have needed one parachute regiment to decide the whole affair in two hours,? now took the lead. When Yeltsin, with the support of his Security Council,45 ordered the use of force ?to reestablish constitutional order in Chechnya,? the Armed Forces prepared to invade. Though they deployed overwhelming strength, 40,000 men backed by columns of armor, and rapidly wiped out Dudaev?s small Air Force, the attack on Groznyi, the first major combat operation of the post-Soviet Russian Army, turned into a catastrophic debacle. On New Year?s Eve, 6,000 Russian troops supported by 350 armored units moved into the city. Dudaev?s forces, making brilliant use of shoulder-held RPGs in infantry tactics pioneered a week earlier by the defender of Bamut, Khizir Kachukaev, destroyed over 200 tanks and APCs, killing an estimated 1,500 Russians while themselves suffering only light casualties. Though sustained bombardments and relentless assaults would force the Chechens out of Groznyi a month later, the military?s failure humiliated Russia and exposed its force structures? glaring insufficiencies for the world to see. Coordination between the different services was disastrous; though the three power ministers ? Grachev, Yerin and Stepashin ? were all in Mozdok to supervise operations, no combined joint HQ had been set up. The intelligence failure, already evident in November, was glaring, and each agency tried to blame the other. Legally, the responsibility lay with the FSK, as the Army?s GRU was not allowed to conduct military intelligence inside Russia, and the MVD had no intelligence-gathering capacity.46 In December, the FSK had set up a Special Operations Directorate in territory controlled by the Opposition, headed by General Dmitry Gerasimov, a former GRU officer who had also headed Vympel for a time. This directorate, which originally started with only 17 men, had to frantically recruit new staff, and beg hardware off the GRU and sleeping bags and ammunition from the Army?s 8th Corps. It formed the nucleus of the FSK?s Chechen Directorate, set up at the start of 1995, which grew into one of its largest territorial bodies.47
In spite of the FSK?s frantic attempts to boost its capacity and of its own legal limitations, the lead role in intelligence collection in Chechnya was taken, de facto, by the Armed Forces? GRU. The GRU is the 2. Main Directorate of the General Staff (GenShtab) of the Russian Armed Forces; its head (Col.-Gen. Fedor Ladygin during the first Chechen conflict, replaced by Col.-Gen. Valentin Korabelnikov in 1997) reports directly to the Chief of the General Staff. (It should be noted that prior to reforms recently and painfully imposed by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, the GenShtab planned and directed combat operations independently from the Defense Ministry, though Grachev often directly meddled with planning during the first Chechen conflict.) The GRU remains one of the most secretive security organs of the Russian Federation, and little is known about its exact composition or the full range of its abilities. The only available organigram is based on information provided by a Soviet-era GRU officer, Vladimir Rezun,48 who defected in 1989, and is thus seriously outdated and does not reflect either post-Soviet reorganizations or the capacity developed in respect with Chechnya (it is nonetheless, as a curiosity, presented here as Fig. 3).
The FAS website presents additional incomplete information as to more recent organizational elements:
The GRU played a considerable role in Russia?s attempts to exploit the 1992-1993 war between Abkhazia and Georgia. While Moscow officially supported Georgia in the conflict, imposing sanctions against Abkhazia, the Minister of Defense, Pavel Grachev, provided considerable military support to the Abkhaz side, apparently on his own personal initiative. Anton Surikov, who as a GRU officer was directly involved in these events (many consider that he was Basaev?s kurator in Abkhazia, though he himself denies it), later stated: ?That [Pavel Grachev] carried out in Abkhazia his own personal policy is true. And this, from the point of view of Russia?s interests, was a very useful and correct policy. Without Grachev Abkhazia would not have stood. He personally was the true organizer of the defense of the republic.? The Russian military, under Grachev?s command, at the very least allowed the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus to send several volunteer battalions to back the Abkhaz, which proved key to the Abkhaz victory in 1993; most probably, these battalions also received logistical support and training from the GRU. Information has persistently surfaced that the Caucasian battalions? most talented commander, Shamil Basaev, who was named Deputy Minister of Defense of Abkhazia, was trained at a GRU base near Volgograd in 1992. The GRU also reportedly deployed its own Spetznaz unit, under Surikov?s command, tasked, between August and October 1992, with eliminating Georgian field commanders.50
The GRU has at its disposal considerable means: intelligence collection units, commando ?Spetsnaz? units, and electronic and signals intelligence means, including spy satellites run out of its Center for Space Reconnaissance. Since 1993, it has secured increased funds to enter into business, and now controls a network of companies. After the 1998 crisis, however, its budgets were severely curtailed, and over 20% of its foreign residencies were closed; many officers left at this point, finding top security positions in commercial firms. The GRU?s loss of capacity abroad only increased its bitter rivalry with the SVR.
There are consistent reports that the GRU has also, since Soviet times, continued to maintain teams of assassins trained to operate abroad to eliminate political enemies. This was confirmed in February 2004 when two officers from the GRU?s 5. Operational Directorate, named as Anatoly Yablochkov and Vasily Pugachev, along with a Russian diplomat, Aleksandr Fetisov, were arrested in Qatar and charged with the murder of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev (though Fetisov was rapidly expelled, the Qatari resisted all Russian pressure to free the two GRU agents and sentenced them to death; the sentence however was subsequently commuted to life in prison, and the two men were discretely returned to Russia in January 2005). The scandal publicly exposed the GRU?s limitations. As the Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer writes:
A number of GRU officers, both active and retired, told me about the indignation within the service about the mishandled assassination and how the SVR botched its part of the job. ? In the Soviet era, the SVR ? then part of the KGB ? handled covert political assassinations abroad. That know-how has now been lost. GRU special forces were trained to assassinate Western leaders in the event of a war with NATO in Europe. The only aim of such an operation would have been to eliminate the target. Misleading investigators after the fact would not be a priority. My sources in the GRU insist that their job ? the actual assassination ? was done well, but that the SVR failed to evacuate the agents as planned.51
Budennovsk and its consequences. The ATTs
Neither the GRU nor the FSK, however, were able to prevent the next massive blow to Russia?s prestige: on June 14, 1995, a large Chechen commando led by Shamil Basaev attacked government buildings in the Southern Russia town of Budennovsk, setting several ablaze and killing numerous officials as well as civilians before withdrawing to the city?s main hospital and taking over a thousand people hostage. Yerin and Stepashin immediately flew to Budennovsk and set up a command post to handle the crisis; Yeltsin, who was due to attend a summit in Halifax, left Russia on the 15th, leaving Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in charge. Tense negotiations ensued as Basaev demanded an end to the war and a full withdrawal of all Federal troops from Chechnya. On June 17, Russian forces including the MVD?s Alfa commando unit repeatedly attempted to storm the hospital, bombing it and killing over 120 hostages; the Chechens fought them off, killing several soldiers, including three Alfa officers. Television channels in Russia and abroad showed images of women hostages screaming and waving white sheets from the hospital windows, ?an absolute public relations disaster for the government. Suddenly Russian forces were seen as the brutal ones.?52 Chernomyrdin ordered a halt to the fighting and began negotiating with Basaev, sending as an intermediary the former dissident and Presidential Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev. An agreement was finally reached to allow the fighters to return to Chechnya unhindered, with part of their hostages; Kovalev as well as a number of Russian liberal parliamentarians and journalists volunteered to accompany the convoy as additional security. Basaev returned safely to Chechnya, and the government opened negotiations with Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov; a cease-fire agreement was reached fairly rapidly, but it was never fully implemented by either side, and finally broke down in October.
The debacle cost both Stepashin and Yerin their jobs. Stepashin however had been making substantial headway in rebuilding the FSK?s capacity: on April 3, 1995, Yeltsin, most likely at Stepashin?s urging, had signed a law ?On the Organs of the Federal Security Service in the RF.? The law considerably boosted the agency?s powers and, to mark the new tack, changed its name from FSK to FSB. The new law:
This law was completed on June 23, a few days after Budennovsk, by a Presidential Edict that ?made the tasks of the FSB more specific than any previous laws, giving the FSB substantial rights to conduct cryptographic work, and described the powers of the FSB director. The number of deputy directors was increased to 8; 2 first deputies, 5 deputies responsible for departments and directorates and 1 deputy director heading the Moscow City and Moscow regional directorate?54 (see Fig. 1).
Yerin was replaced as Interior Minister by Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, a veteran VV officer who commanded the Joint Federal Forces in Chechnya. Yeltsin took three weeks after Stepashin?s resignation to name his successor: at Korzhakov?s urging, he finally picked Mikhail Barsukov, the Director of GUO. Barsukov immediately purged several senior officers and close Stepashin associates, including Lt.-Gen. Igor Mezhakov, the senior FSB official in Chechnya. In November Barsukov was promoted to General of the Army. As Director of the FSB, he remained unusually secretive, never giving a single press conference; numerous observers felt that he was hiding his incompetence, and that if the FSB continued to develop under his leadership, it was more in spite of him than thanks to his initiatives.
The Budennovsk events, indeed, had fully convinced Yeltsin, already swayed by Stepashin, that the new FSB needed not only ?eyes and ears? but also ?claws and teeth.? Immediately after Barsukov?s nomination, the UBT was transformed into a much-expanded Antiterrorist Center (ATTs), to which Alfa and Vympel/Vega were transferred a few weeks later from MVD. The man chosen to head the ATTs was Col.-Gen. Viktor Zorin, a veteran KGB counterintelligence officer who had headed the KGB?s 7. Directorate (which included Alfa) in 1991, the MB?s Operational-Research Directorate in 1992, and the FSK?s Department of Counterintelligence Operations since 1994. Zorin, seconded by his Deputy Head Lt.-Gen. Ivan Mironov, built the ATTs into a powerful organization involved in a broad variety of activities. The ATTs included four Directorates: Operations (Terror), headed by General Mironov; Detachment A (formerly Alfa), tasked with protecting transportation and buildings; Detachment B (formerly Vympel/Vega), tasked with protecting strategic sites (the two were soon joined in a Tsentr Spetsnaz under Col.-Gen. Vladimir Pronichev); and Directorate ?K,? tasked with ideological counterintelligence.
Litvinenko, in his book, cites a letter published on internet on March 11, 2000, by a man calling himself FSB Major Vladimir Kondratiev, who claimed to have served in a top-secret Department K-20, set up (within the ATTs) immediately after the Khassav-Yurt Accords of August 1996, with the task ?of planning and carrying out operations to discredit the Chechen Republic, so that it would not receive international recognition.?55 Whether or not this department actually existed, the ATTs certainly in the years after the first war carried out such operations, and was most likely deeply involved in many of the high-profile kidnappings that did so much to damage Chechnya?s reputations: foreign diplomats attempting to solve these kidnappings often dealt directly with Viktor Zorin, and it is alleged that he and his subordinates kept parts of the substantial ransoms paid in many cases, in effect playing both ends of the field. It is impossible to say whether these provocations were part of a more general FSB policy or whether the ATTs and its successor departments were running their own show; certainly it did not reflect the official policy of the government, nor of those officials like Ivan Rybkin, the Secretary of the Security Council, tasked with the Chechen dossier between 1996 and 1999. The ATTs?s attitude towards Chechnya, though, becomes clearer if we consider its institutional origins. Directorate ?K? is considered by most specialist to be the main inheritor ? even if not the direct successor ? of the KGB?s 5. Main Directorate, which, after being renamed the Directorate for the Protection of the Constitution in 1989, was disbanded in 1991. Its personnel was dispersed, but, as stated, many were reemployed in the MB?s anti-terrorist department, as well as later in the FSK/FSB?s UKB (Directorate for Constitutional Security). An exact filiation cannot be drawn, and it seems that Litvinenko is incorrect when he states that the UKB was directly integrated into the ATTs as Directorate ?K;?56 in the 1998 organizational scheme, Constitutional Security (or Protection) and the ATTs appear as two separate departments (they were officially merged as the 2. Department for the Protection of the Constitutional Order & the Struggle against Terrorism on August 28, 1999; this has now become one of the most important branches of the FSB). Whatever the exact organizational history, a study of the biographies of many of the senior officers leading the antiterror/constitutional protection/Chechnya departmental complex within the FSB shows that many of them initially worked in the KGB?s 5. Main Directorate; and it seems apparent from their style of work and methods that they have preserved both the specific mentality and the practices of their old directorate, known mostly, through its work in persecuting dissidents and religious figures, as a haven for the KGB?s most narrow-minded and incompetent elements.
The 1996 elections
It was obvious to everyone, in the spring of 1996, that the ongoing Chechen conflict was a major factor handicapping the reelection of the ailing Yeltsin, whose popularity ratings stood at a rock-bottom 3%. Steps were thus taken, after the killing of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev on April 21, 1996,57 to initiate negotiations with his successor Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. At the end of May Yandarbiev was invited with a delegation to the Kremlin, where a drunk and aggressive Yeltsin, under pressure, finally agreed to a deal; further technical negotiations were pursued in Nazran in June. Yeltsin, backed by the financial might of a group of seven oligarchs (including Boris Berezovsky and Gusinsky, whose NTV probably swung the election), faced two major opponents: the Communist Party?s Gennady Zyuganov and the blunt, highly popular General Aleksandr Lebed, who had publicly opposed the war at its start and resigned from the Army. Lebed?s strong showing in the June runoff, 15%, worried Yeltsin and his supporters, who decided to coopt him; with his back to the wall, Yeltsin sacrificed the entire ?party of hawks,? firing Korzhakov, Barsukov, Soskovets and Grachev before the second round of the elections, which he narrowly won. The elections were also marked, between June 11 and July 12, by a string of terrorist bombings in Moscow trains and trolleys: 4 persons were killed and several dozens injured. The authorities immediately blamed the Chechen rebels, and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov threatened to expel all Chechens from Moscow even before an investigation was conducted; the rebels, however, engaged at that time in peace negotiations, had no interest in carrying out such attacks, and a number of observers pointed the finger at the special services, accusing them of trying to sabotage the peace talks (in Chechnya itself, Maskhadov was twice targeted by road-side bombs after returning from talks in Nazran).58
Certainly many groups in Russia bitterly opposed a peace agreement. On July 4, the day after the election (Yeltsin meanwhile had suffered a massive coronary and had entirely disappeared from public view), the Federal Forces unilaterally reinitiated military hostilities against the Chechens. Massive thrusts rolled the rebel forces back to the mountains, and a surprise attack nearly cornered Yandarbiev, Maskhadov, and Basaev in Makhketi, though all three managed to slip through the Russian lines and escape on foot or on horseback. But the Chechens regrouped and, on August 6, passing with ease through the Federal deployment, they attacked Groznyi and within three days seized most of the city, overwhelming a number of objects and blockading 12,000 Federal troops in their bases. At this point Lebed, who had been rewarded for his support with the position of Secretary of the Security Council, took charge of the situation, overrode the generals who wanted to bomb the rebels back out of the city, and ordered a cease-fire; by the end of the month, he had signed a historic agreement with Maskhadov in Khassav-Yurt, and joint Chechen-Russian units were patrolling Groznyi (Lebed, now allied with the disgraced Korzhakov, soon came into conflict with Interior Minister Kulikov, a powerful ?hawk;? when Kulikov, in October, accused Lebed of fomenting a coup, Yeltsin rapidly fired him).
The dismissals of Korzhakov and Barsukov triggered yet another round of reorganization. The SBP, which now employed 4,000 staff, was resubordinated to GUO, which itself was rebaptized FSO (Federal Guards Service). Its Director, Yuri Krapivin, named in July 1995 when Barsukov had taken over FSB, remained at his post; though under his leadership the organization became even more opaque, it was brought back to its original functions, guarding the President and other senior officials, and its personnel was gradually reduced. The FSO also lost a major asset, the government communication system ?ATS-2?, which was handed over to FAPSI.59
With the war in Chechnya winding down, but crime and Russia?s economic problems increasing, Yeltsin, in Bennett?s words, ?wanted a security technocrat at the helm of the FSB.? To replace Barsukov he chose a little known and completely apolitical official, Col.-Gen. Nikolai Kovalev, passing over the ATTs?s Viktor Zorin, who had meanwhile been promoted First Deputy Director, but who was considered too close to Chernomyrdin and the Communists and was furthermore tainted by allegations of shady financial dealings. Kovalev had begun his career in the Moscow UKGB in 1974, and had then served in the 5. Main Directorate. After serving in Afghanistan he had returned to the Moscow directorate, which he took over after Savostyanov?s removal in December 1994 (the position made him a Deputy Director). He is said to have been chosen for the Director?s post partly thanks to a successful operation he mounted against an Italian mafia plot to smuggle vast counterfeit sums into Russia.60
3. Yeltsin?s Second Term
From Chechnya to the economy. GUSP
Yeltsin?s second term, throughout which, ill and alcoholic, he proved far weaker and isolated than during the first, was marked by his increasing reliance on the special services: three out of the four Prime Ministers he nominated after sacking Chernomyrdin came from the security organs, and he was only able to negotiate his exit in 1999 by fully handing over power to the siloviki. Before this, though, Russia would see a great deal of acrimonious intrigue, a catastrophic economic crisis, and even further fragmentation and corruption of its state bodies. The security services, caught up in the heart of these struggles, underwent relentless restructuration, which did little to improve their efficiency or capabilities. One result was that the number of generals was multiplied by seven as compared to the old KGB; at the same time, the quantity of experienced operational staff radically diminished: by 1995, only 20% of FSB officials had more than seven years of experience.61 The various agencies? leadership spent far more time struggling for political survival ? and in some cases, concentrating on their personal interests ? than they did trying to improve the work of their subordinates.
Terrorism of course remained on the agenda, and in 1997 an Interdepartmental Antiterrorist Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister, was set up to improve coordination between the services (see Fig. 4, above); judging on the basis of the second Chechen conflict, which began two years later, the effort does not seem to have borne much fruit. Chechnya itself was more or less pushed onto the back-burner and forgotten, though it was not entirely neglected by certain departments of the security organs. The main focus was the economy. In February 1997, the FSB?s Kovalev went to the Davos Economic Forum ?to reassure the world that the Russian economy was in good hands and that potential investors and their money should feel safe in Russia.?62 An economic counterintelligence directorate was created within the FSB?s Counterintelligence Department. On May 22, 1997, the FSB was once again completely reorganized. Its 14 directorates were replaced by 5 departments and 6 directorates, and the number of First Deputy and Deputy Directors was changed. All vacant posts were abolished, and a number of generals were forced into retirement; the FSB lost yet more qualified personnel, either to the MVD or the courts; some remained on a part-time basis, moonlighting on the side. Salaries were at an all-time low: Bennett cites figures of $370 a month for a Colonel with 15 years seniority, and $250 a month for a Lieutenant; SVR salaries were 50% higher, those of the FSO 150%.63 One solution to a number of these problems, which also allowed the FSB to legally infiltrate private business, was the creation of the prikomandirovannye sotrudniki (?staff on assignment?).64 The federal law on the FSB (article 15) states that ?in order to carry out security tasks, the military personnel of the organs of the FSB, while remaining in service, can be assigned to work at enterprises and organizations at the consent of their directors irrespective of their form of property.? This allowed thousands of FSB officers to be hired as ?legal consultants? in private companies and banks, where, using their connections and FSB resources, they provided krysha to their employer. Volkov cites data suggesting that up to 20% of FSB officials ?are engaged in informal ?roof? businesses as prikomandirovannye.? The ice cut both ways, as this extensive network useful furnished the FSB with information about private business. As Volkov notes, ?while it is possible to distinguish analytically between the search for a new job by former state security employees and their new operative assignments, an empirical distinction between the two phenomena has become virtually impossible.?
The FSB also sought to formalize its relationship with major businesses, as well as with the ChOPs and ChSBs providing security for them, by setting up a Consultative Council as a liaison and cooperation organ. The Council included both FSB officials and representatives of the major private security agencies emanating from the Soviet state security organs. Though the FSB announced that ?the council?s activity was to be based on state interest and its overall mission would be to assist the authorities in defense of society and individuals,? it in effect gave it an added institutional foothold in the krysha business, providing it with an effective channel of influence over some of the major violence-managing agencies. Most firms invited to join were eager to do so: ?In the general atmosphere of economic and political insecurity even the largest companies could not afford not to be represented on the Council. The Council had great potential to become a mix of security companies? semi-private club, a stock exchange of information and job centre.?65 The FSB could easily pressure those unwilling to cooperate by challenging or revoking vital licenses and permits. The Council though was potentially a double-edged weapon; as Bennett remarks, the FSB?s ?biggest problem was not that private companies would not want to cooperate but that the council would be used to get information from Lubyanka or that that the more talented and successful FSB officers would be head-hunted by private enterprise.? It did however prove a successful innovation, and was subsequently expanded, under Vladimir Putin, to formalize the ?coordination? between the FSB and the mass media, especially television.
The FSB was not the only agency tasked with work in the economic sector. On May 22, the same day the restructuration decree was promulgated, the ATTs?s Viktor Zorin was, officially, relieved of his duties; in reality, he was secretly transferred to head the Presidential Administration?s ultra-secret GUSP. The GUSP, as noted earlier, had been formed from the KGB?s 15. Directorate and was formally tasked with maintaining and exploiting the system of bunkers created to protect the country?s leadership in case of nuclear war, such as the huge complex built in the 1980s outside of Moscow.66 It is composed of two branches, the Service for Special Objects (i.e. bunkers) and an Exploitation-Technical Directorate, and controls a large force, the bulk of which are Army conscripts charged with maintenance and construction work. But in fact the GUSP?s powers have been expanded to make it an operational-analytical special service, a ?pocket? Presidential spetssluzhba tasked to deal with ?strategic problems linked to the political and economic interests of presidential power.?67 It was headed for many years by Vasily Frolov, who was fired in May 1998 for failing to anticipate and prevent the wave of strikes and protest actions engulfing Russia and embarrassing Yeltsin. The choice of a professional counterintelligence man and ?dirty-work? specialist to replace him was significant. Under Zorin, GUSP continued its operational work, dealing with the problem of capital flight to the West and hidden accounts; in 1998, after the crisis, it was instrumental in addressing the problem of the ?hard-currency corridor? out of Russia and helping the Central Bank stabilize the exchange rate of the ruble after its sudden collapse. But it also prepared programmes to solve regional, national and religious conflicts (given subsequent events, one might be tempted to speculate whether these ?solutions? did not include the kind of destabilization actions familiar to the ATTs). Finally, Mukhin, citing unattributed sources, states that Zorin, during his tenure at GUSP, prepared a special programme ?to neutralize the influence of the oligarchs,? whose stranglehold on the main assets of the Russian economy, media holdings, close relations to various power agencies, and political ambitions were proving more and more of a critical problem to the Presidency. Though Zorin was replaced, when Putin took power, by FSB Deputy Director Aleksandr Tsarenko, it is possible that the Kremlin?s massive, rapid and successful offensive in 2000 against both Gusinsky and Berezovsky, resulting in their departure from the country and dramatic loss of influence, drew on these earlier plans. (In 2004, it should be noted, GUSP was made into a federal agency, but Tsarenko remained in place and nothing was otherwise changed.)
Rivalries and takeover attempts. FAPSI.
The sudden collapse of the Barsukov-Korzhakov hegemony over the world of Russia?s special services left no single agency in a position of dominance. Over the next few years, rivalry between the different services intensified, or at least grew in visibility, often spilling over into the public domain. A number of ?hostile takeovers? of one agency by another were attempted between 1997 and 1999; though few succeeded, they clearly underline the bitter competition for influence and resources being played out. At the end of 1997, rumors began spreading about the resubordination of the FPS (the Border Guards) to the FSB. These rumors had a basis in fact: Yeltsin, told that the merger would save 10% of the FPS?s budget, signed an instruction in January 1998 ordering the government to prepare a draft decree, but later however rescinded it.68 In 1997 too the special SIZO ?Lefortovo? was returned to the FSB, boosting its executive capacity not only to investigate and arrest but once again to detain (in May 2005, Justice Minister Yuri Chaika announced that in order to fulfill Russia?s obligations to the Council of Europe, all FSB detention centers, including Lefortovo, would be transferred to the Justice Ministry). In September 1998, in order to bring Russia in line with its Council of Europe obligations, the GUIN was transferred from the MVD to ?civilian control? at the Ministry of Justice. As the transfer was effected right after the August financial crisis, and as the MVD furthermore refused to transfer the GUIN?s budget to the MinYust, the prison system found itself starved of funds, and the GUIN was obliged to appeal for international help to feed Russia?s more than a million prisoners; as part of this effort, GUIN granted access to numerous prisons to foreign journalists and aid officials, a first in the history of this closed system.
The battle for military counterintelligence also continued between the Armed Forces and the FSB; in 1998, at last, the FSB obtained full control over the osoby otdely, and military counterintelligence became a samostoyatelnyi directorate of the FSB under Col.-Gen. Aleksei Molyakov, regaining its old KGB number. Under Molyakov?s leadership, the 3. Directorate launched several controversial cases against journalists or environmental activists who had exposed corruption or ecological disasters in the Armed Forces; though the Russian constitution prohibits making ecological information a state secret, ambiguities in several laws allowed the FSB to imprison and prosecute a number of individuals for years. The best known-cases are those of Vladivostok military journalist Grigory Pasko, who was charged with treason in November 1997 after passing information to Japanese media about the embezzlement of Japanese grant money (for a nuclear waste processing plant) by senior Pacific Fleet officers; and of retired naval officer Aleksandr Nikitin, arrested and charged with espionage in November 1996 for passing information about the Russian Navy?s illegal dumping of radioactive waste material to a Norwegian environmentalist group.69
But the most vicious battle was the one fought over the future of FAPSI.70 FAPSI, since its creation at the end of 1993, had been one of the best-funded of the spetssluzhby, and had furthermore greatly profited from its control over key assets in the telecommunications business. In 1992 already, the KPS, as it was still called, had offered many former KGB senior officers rich opportunities for promotion and personal enrichment: whereas the KGB needed three directorates for its SigInt/ElInt work, the new structure had sixteen, and the number of generals rose from eighteen at the end of the Soviet era to seventy by the mid-1990s. For Yeltsin, it was the ideal spetssluzhba: able to collect information through its control of government communications and its intelligence means, yet relatively safe due to its lack of powers of investigation, arrest or detention; even its counterintelligence work had to be conducted by the FSB and other agencies. Over the years, FAPSI came to gain broad prerogatives in the fields of information and communications technologies, holding the right to deliver licenses in several key sectors. Thanks to Yeltsin, the agency gained a number of powerful tools in the first half of the decade. In September 1992 Yeltsin issued a directive setting up the Scientific Technical Centre of Legal Information ?Sistema,? partially financed by the State Property Committee, which ?was to co-ordinate work on information and telecommunication technologies, create a legal information system, updating the reference database of legal information and assure its accessibility for authorized users.? In June 1993, he created the Russian Governmental Information Network, which created on the basis of ?Sistema? a ?unified information-legal space covering the main organs of state authority of the Russian Federation.? In April 1995 he ordered a new Federal Centre for the Protection of Economic Information, to be supervised by FAPSI. The same month, worried about ?the growing power of several Russian companies and banks, the development of their security services and increasing telecommunication links between Russia and other countries,? he ordered the construction of a secure Special Purpose Federal Information and Telecommunications Systems (ITKS) for the state administrative agencies, with presidential status. The same decree ?made FAPSI the sole master of any coded communications in Russia and allowed it to inspect any commercial communications network.? In August 1995, finally, he ordered the creation of the GAS (State Automated System) ?Vybory? by FAPSI and the presidential Committee of Information Support Policy to transmit secure election results between every territorial electoral commission and the Central Electoral Commission. In April 1996 he ordered that a Russian Federation Situation Center, answering directly to the President, be set up and staffed by FAPSI. FAPSI, finally,
also runs the electronic communication links of both chambers of the Russian Parliament, and controls a data bank which consists of several integrated databases: economic, socio-political, legal, passport, special information, a sociological compendium of opinion polls, population, ecological problems, geographic/economic, business and market and emergency situations. The FAPSI information centre ?Kontur,? on the outskirts of Moscow, includes a database from 1,500 publications, statistical information and analysis concerning various aspects of the political situation in Russia. [?] FAPSI also runs the Regional Information Analysis Centres (RIATs) located in 58 regions of Russia. The centres analyze 1200 regional publications and send their analysis to Moscow. [?] The total number of information analysis centres was approaching three hundred by the end of 1999.
As Bennett comments:
This type of work would have been more appropriate for the FSB. By putting the centres under FAPSI?s supervision Yeltsin was trying to separate investigative bodies and those with powers of detention from information gathering and analytical structures. The regional leaders were less than enthusiastic about the new snoop centres. Not only were they Moscow?s information gathering outposts in the regions but the regions had to subsidize them as well.
The KPS, after the breakup of the USSR, inherited a number of key telecommunications assets that swiftly made it a major player in the market. It set up a number of commercial ventures, run by former officers still in the active reserve, to manage its extensive business activities. It controled the communications and money transfer systems of most major banks, and monitored all financial operations through its Federal Commercial Information Protection Center, set up in spring 1995 as a FAPSI directorate. As Bennett notes, ?in the increasingly privatized world of secure electronic communication in Russia FAPSI is the undisputed ruler.?71
Inevitably, senior officials with access to such means found it difficult to resist temptation. Beginning in the mid-1990s, after the FSB, responsible for FAPSI?s counterintelligence, launched several internal investigations of the agency, a number of senior FAPSI officers resigned, were fired or fled abroad. A major case finally brought the extent of corruption at FAPSI into the open:72 on April 12, 1996, the FSB arrested the head of FAPSI?s Financial-Economic Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Valeri Monastyrskiy, and accused him of embezzling at least 20 million DM and 3.3 billion rubles, mostly in connection with the purchase of equipment from Siemens. Monastyrskiy?s career is emblematic of the overlap between state security and business at FAPSI: a veteran KGB administrator, Monastyrskiy retired in 1992 to head three companies, Roskomtekh, Impex-Metal and Simaco, set up with FAPSI?s direct participation; in November 1993, he was hired by FAPSI while his wife took over Roskomtekh. The case soon made headlines, especially when the two rival services, locked in their power struggle, began leaking damaging information to the press. In March 1997, a year after his arrest, Monastyrskiy, still in prison, publicly claimed that he had been ?a victim of a conspiracy against FAPSI concocted by the head of the FSB General Barsukov, who wanted to merge FAPSI with his organization, and General Korzhakov, the head of the SBP, who wanted to share FAPSI?s budget.? FAPSI itself did not remain idle: ?The FAPSI collegium wrote to Boris Yeltsin complaining about the unprecedented attempt to discredit FAPSI leadership. Monastyrskiy?s lawyers conducted an aggressive campaign against their client?s detractors, aiming at specific personalities in the FSB. In revenge the FSB gave several journalists a list of FAPSI?s staggering corrupt practices and financial gerrymandering, with names, addresses and sums involved.? Detailed information about the illegal financial dealings of the head of FAPSI, General Aleksandr Starovoytov, and his family were thus published, though Starovoytov managed to retain his position until the end of 1998 (Monastyrskiy was released in September 1997 due to insufficient evidence). The change of personnel (Kovalev was also fired from FSB in July 1998) did not put an end to the struggle or the revelation of various kompromat. In December 1999 Vyacheslav Izmailov, the military correspondent of Novaya Gazeta, privately organized with several friends from RUBOP the arrest of an important Chechen kidnapper, Salavdi Abdurzakov. Abdurzakov owned the Chechen mobile phone company BiTel, which worked off FAPSI satellite assets, and was probably involved in the kidnapping and subsequent decapitation of four telecom engineers working for the British company Granger, who had come to Chechnya to help set up a company competing with BiTel. Izmailov, after turning Abdurzakov over to the authorities, gave the case much publicity, accusing FAPSI of keeping Abdurzakov in a safe house rather than in jail, and of trying to have him quietly released (due in part to Izmailov?s press barrage, Abdurzakov was finally sentenced to four years? imprisonment on reduced charges, but never served out his sentence).73 In May 2000 Novaya Gazeta, again, published information accusing the new head of FAPSI, Col.-Gen. Vladimir Matyukhin, and several of his subordinates of fraud, embezzlement and abuse of office; General Matyukhin in particular was accused of covering up the death of a conscript illegally employed in construction work at his dacha. The FSB, in spite of this barrage, failed to gain control of its rival?s prize assets (FAPSI was finally abolished in March 2003 but the FSB only got control of some of its directorates, the rest being shared out between the Ministry of Defense and the FSO). But this very public trading of accusations yielded precious information about the inner workings and corrupt deals of the spetssluzhby.
The MVD and GUBOP
Aside from the economy, the second major challenge placed before the security organs was crime, and more specifically organized crime. We have already touched on the issue above, when discussing the development of the krysha business. The consolidation of crime groups, together with the increasing professionalization of their internal structures, methods of work, and provision of services had, within a year of the dissolution of the USSR, severely narrowed down the field; the vicious competition for ?customers? and territory exploded onto the streets of Moscow in 1993, with the start of the famous ?Mafia War? that caused hundreds of casualties over the next eighteen months. By 1994, the playing field had been cleared out, and only the major actors remained standing. Having to compete now with both the ChOPs and branches of state agencies in the krysha business, crime groups sought to diversify, investing where they could in legal businesses; they of course maintained their control over ?illegal? economic sectors, such as the drug trade, though even here they had to compete with corrupt, ?privatized? elements of the force structures. Attempts by some Russian crime groups to expand abroad met with mitigated success: in developed capitalist economies, there was no need for the elaborate gamut of services provided by krysha, and Western companies could count on functioning law enforcement organs to fight off cruder attempts at instituting protection rackets; as for other sectors of the criminal economy, the Russians, faced with murderous competition from long-entrenched groups (such as the Italian, Columbian, or Jamaican mafias in the US), found it difficult to carve out a sustainable niche and were in many places forced to retreat (though they are reported to control a substantial portion of Israel?s illegal sectors). In Russia, however, krysha was now a key structural element of the developing capitalist economy, the oil that greased all the wheels, the crucial mechanism that rendered commerce possible. In 1998, the string of defaults touched off by the August financial crisis triggered a violent response from kryshy seeking to recover their clients? debts: over the following year, murders of bankers and CFOs became a weekly occurrence.
While at the micro level various branches of state organs competed with the crime groups, legally or not, for a share of the krysha market, at the macro level the authorities had few tools at their disposal to grapple with the problem of organized crime. Though FSB also had an organized crime unit, the MVD remained the principal state actor tasked with fighting crime. But under the ministership of Anatoly Kulikov, the struggle against organized crime was not a major priority at MVD. Col.-Gen. Kulikov was a career VV man who had come up through the ranks; as commanding officer of the VV troops in the SKVO (North Caucasus Military District) in 1990-92, he had been involved in the Ossete-Ingush conflict (during which Russian forces openly supported the Ossete militias chasing ethnic Ingush from Prigorodnie District), and had witnessed with horror Dudaev?s rise to power and declaration of independence. In 1992 he was promoted to Commander of the VV and Deputy Interior Minister; he played a leading role in the storming of the White House in October 1993. In January 1995 he accepted the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Joint Federal Forces (OGFS) in Chechnya, a position several Army Generals, including Col.-Gen. Eduard Vorobyev, had turned down. Units under his command perpetrated a number of atrocities in Chechnya, the best documented being the massacre by Interior Troops of over 200 unarmed civilians in the village of Samashki on April 7-8, 1995. In July 1995, Kulikov was named Interior Minister in place of Viktor Yerin, who had resigned in the wake of the Budennovsk tragedy. MVD bodies under his responsibility, both the VV and the GUIN (which ran parts of the ?filtration camp? system, where prisoners were routinely tortured and murdered), continued to commit war crimes in Chechnya, with little oversight from the ministry. In March 1996 Kulikov reportedly played a significant role in talking Boris Yeltsin out of a plan, apparently prepared by Korzhakov and Barsukov, to cancel the upcoming presidential elections and ban the Communist party. After the Khassav-Yurt peace accords, which he opposed, Kulikov came into public conflict with Aleksandr Lebed; Yeltsin, for whom Lebed had outlived his usefulness, sided with Kulikov and unceremoniously sacked Lebed.
With the appointment of Kulikov, the rest of the ministry was rapidly militarized. The aims of this reform were to make it capable of protecting the political leadership more effectively, improving their capabilities as a combat force able to fight well organized and well armed groups in the Russian Federation and purging corrupt officers, NCOs and contract soldiers. The losers were the crime fighting elements of the ministry. The top militia officers were not invited to some of the Ministerial meetings and only the voices of discontent from the SBP stopped Kulikov from militarizing the Russian traffic police.74
Building up the VV, whose overall performance in Chechnya had proved appalling, into an effective fighting force and rooting out corruption within the Ministry were thus Kulikov?s two priorities during his tenure. Kulikov has repeatedly discussed how he discovered with shock the extent of corruption within MVD upon being made Minister; but in his well-publicized battle against the phenomenon he proved as unsuccessful as every reformer that had come before him. Shortly after his appointment, he launched a massive ?clean hands? operation; yet though a number of officers and even senior officials were dismissed, this had little impact on the ordinary police?s deeply ingrained practices. Kulikov also attempted a number of publicity stunts, personally going undercover as an ordinary driver on various roads to catch bribe-takers, or sending a truck loaded with vodka up from Vladikavkaz to Rostov and secretly videotaping the inspection proceedings: only two out of twenty-four traffic policemen refused the bribes offered, and Kulikov had over 30 officials fired.75 His obsession with this problem brought him into conflict with Vladimir Rushaïlo, then head of the Moscow RUBOP which he had built up since 1990; Kulikov launched 38 investigations into RUBOP?s business activities, but failed to corner Rushaïlo, who was closely allied to Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov as well as to Aleksandr Lebed and the oligarch Boris Berezovsky. In October 1996, finally, in a bid to remove Rushaïlo from RUBOP, Kulikov offered him the position of First Deputy Head of GUBOP; Rushaïlo refused and left MVD altogether, taking up a position as legal advisor to the Chairman of the Federation Council, Yegor Stroyev.
As for the VV, it was indeed in poor shape. During the first Chechen conflict it had proved even more underfunded and combat-ready than the Army, and Kulikov fought strongly for increased budgets. His attempts to expand the VV?s size and combat power, especially in the SKVO, led however to open accusations from Duma deputies (as well as from Aleksandr Lebed) that Kulikov was seeking to form a private army. Kulikov defended his proposals, arguing ?that the problems associated with internal unrest were the primary threat to the unity of Russia and demanded such increases.?76 At the same time, unusually for a VV man, Kulikov maintained good relations with the Armed Forces, even appointing an Army General, Leonti Shevtsov, to replace him as head of the VV. Kulikov, always a hard-liner when it came to ethnic conflicts within Russia, seems to have believed that the peace agreement signed with Aslan Maskhadov in August 1996 would never last, and his actions in building up the VV?s combat power strongly resembled, to many observers, preparations for renewed conflict in Chechnya. When Khattab?s forces attacked an MVD base in Buinaksk in December 1997, Kulikov reacted strongly, declaring that ?...we have a right to make preventive strikes against bandit bases, wherever they are located, including the territory of the Chechen Republic. This is my view, and I intend to inform the President of this.?77 But open conflict with Chechnya was not on the agenda and both the Chechen authorities and leading Russian politicians sharply criticized Kulikov?s statements, forcing the minister to back down. As Thomas writes, Kulikov ?appeared to disagree fundamentally with President Yeltsin in two areas: the government's policy in the North Caucasus, which Kulikov viewed as too soft; and the government's policy toward military reform, which Kulikov viewed as impossible to execute without an increase in the armed forces' budget.?78 Two months after Kulikov?s statement on Buinaksk, Yeltsin dismissed Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and his government; Kulikov ? who learned of his own dismissal from the media ? was the only minister not reconfirmed.
In place of Kulikov Yeltsin named his favorite silovik, Sergei Stepashin. Stepashin brought his reformist zeal to the ministry, rapidly reversing Kulikov?s militarization and recentering the MVD?s activities on crime-fighting. He eliminated the MVD?s Main Staff, and replaced it with a Main Organizational-Inspection Directorate; he also reduced the overall troop levels of the VV, and cut the number of MVD military districts from seven to four. At the same time, he did not neglect the North Caucasus, though his approach was markedly different from Kulikov?s. Yeltsin?s March 1998 purge had also brought down the Secretary of the Security Council, Ivan Rybkin, a Berezovsky ally who had become the Russian Government?s point man on Chechnya. Following his and Berezovsky?s departure from the Security Council, Stepashin took over the Chechnya dossier. He met on several occasions with Turpal-Ali Atgeriev, Maskhadov?s Minister for State Sharia Security, and adopted a conciliatory discourse with him, though he failed to provide Maskhadov with the assistance he sought to curb the rising power of islamic extremists and criminal groups in the Chechen Republic. When the authorities of Daghestan, in the fall of 1998, came into conflict with local ?Wahhabi? villages whose inhabitants, though they otherwise remained peaceful, had chased out corrupt police officials and imposed sharia, Stepashin acted as a mediator, granting the villages an unprecedented form of legal autonomy. Yet Stepashin did not neglect the military element: throughout 1998, the MVD took the lead within SKVO, setting up joint military exercises with the FSB and the Armed Forces aimed at improving inter-service coordination and capability in case of renewed conflict. At the same time, in July 1998, and perhaps at Stepashin?s instigation, Yeltsin redefined seven voyennye okruga (military districts) for the entire country and ordered all other executive security bodies, especially the VV, to bring their unit borders into line so as to avoid overlaps in command & control.
By the time Stepashin was named Prime Minister, on April 27, 1999, his attempts at reforming and improving the MVD?s performance had brought as few concrete results as Kulikov?s. One of Stepashin?s main plans had centered around uniting the so-called ?criminal block,? GUUR, GUBOP and GUBEP, into a Criminal Police Service under direct Federal control, while delegating public order and traffic police to the regions, which would finance these services directly; the reform however was bitterly opposed both by the Ministry?s central staff and by the still-powerful governors, and was quietly dropped (Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov tabled the plan again a few years later, but it has yet to be implemented). He had also spearheaded the creation, in November 1998, of an Investigative Committee, ?an internal watchdog ... empowered to conduct preliminary investigations within the ministry to make sure that it acts in accordance with its own rules and regulations.?79 The anti-corruption campaigns ritually announced by each of Stepashin?s successors suggest that this body has had as little success as its predecessors in policing the police. Stepashin was replaced as Interior Minister by the RUBOP veteran Rushaïlo, who had returned to MVD in May 1998 as First Deputy Minister in charge of GUBOP (then still GUOP), and who had profited from his time at the Federation Council to build close links to the all-powerful ?Family? clique surrounding the ailing Yeltsin. Rushaïlo, considered by most observers a ?Berezovsky? man, took an active part in the raging intrigues of the last years of the Yeltsin regime, and pursued his previous corrupt practices on an even broader scale. Fig. 5, above, gives the broad organizational outline of Rushaïlo?s MVD.80
In Chechnya and throughout the North Caucasus, the kidnapping epidemic had grown beyond all control. It had begun immediately after the end of the war; most of its victims were Chechens, Russians, or members of neighboring ethnic groups, but foreigners were also systematically targeted. By 1997, virtually all the humanitarian organizations still working in the region had pulled out, and journalists only rarely ventured into the Republic, contributing to the ?information blockade? sought by Moscow. A number of high-profile cases, such as the kidnapping of several NTV and ORT correspondents and of Yeltsin envoy to Chechnya Valentin Vlasov, had yielded multi-million dollar ransoms for the groups holding them. Boris Berezovsky, as Deputy Secretary of the Security Council, played a highly visible role in freeing hostages, often greeting them in front of television cameras as they returned to Moscow. His adversaries and critics accused him of using the kidnappings as a pretext to channel large sums of Russian government money to various Chechen extremists; and indeed Berezovsky, and his right-hand man Badri Patarkatsishvili, preferred to work with the most radical elements in Chechnya such as Shamil Basaev and Movladi Udugov, while shunning Maskhadov and his anti-terror and anti-kidnapping chiefs, Khunkar-Pasha Israpilov and Shadid Bargishev.81 Other visible players in solving kidnappings included Stepashin and the ATTs?s Viktor Zorin, whose ambiguous role has already been discussed. Rushaïlo, when he returned to the MVD, also got involved, working through his GUBOP or its North Caucasus branch, the Nalchik RUBOP headed by General Ruslan Yeshugaev. In one case that received some publicity in the press, Rushaïlo was said to have personally waited in a house near the Ingush-Chechen border while his forces conducted an operation to free the French UNHCR official Vincent Cochetel, an operation during which several kidnappers were killed. French media however reported that the French government had given Rushaïlo a sum in excess of $3 million for the negotiated liberation of Cochetel; informed sources believe Rushaïlo double-crossed both the French and the kidnappers, putting the hostage?s life at risk by ordering a forceful liberation while keeping the money for himself.82
GUBOP, Rushaïlo?s ?favorite toy,? reached the peak of its powers under his leadership (see Fig. 6 above). Gurov?s 6-oï otdel had first been renamed GUBOP in February 1991, and UBOPs were ordered established in every Union Republic (Moldavia, already embroiled in civil war, and the three Baltic States, which were no longer paying much attention to Moscow?s decrees, failed to comply). One of GUBOP/GUOP?s subsequent major innovations was the introduction, in 1993, of an intermediary, regional level of its organized crime-fighting structure. Gurov, during the Soviet period already, had long argued that the close links and even corrupt collusions between Republican MVD chiefs and local Communist party bosses made it nearly impossible to fight organized crime at the local level; in line with this logic, the MVD now created twelve RUBOPs, structures to which the oblast UBOPs reported directly (rather than to the oblast UVD); RUBOP, in turn, reported to GUBOP in Moscow. This regional structure remained a particularity of the GUBOP system throughout the 1990s; only after Vladimir Putin created the Federal okrugs in 2000 was it slowly extended to other MVD branches such as the criminal police (GUUR) or the GUBEP system. In 1992 GUBOP, renamed GUOP, became samostoyatelnyi within the MVD, under the direct control of a First Deputy Interior Minister, the position Rushaïlo obtained in May 1998. Upon becoming minister, Rushaïlo downgraded the rank of GUBOP?s new boss, Vladimir Kozlov, to Deputy Minister, but left the structure samostoyatelnyi; in December 1999, he once again made Kozlov a First Deputy Minister. During this period, 1998-2000, GUBOP and the Moscow RUBOP had become, in the words of one well-placed observer, ?the Kings of Moscow,?83 taking over the SBP?s former highly visible position as the prime suppliers of protection and influence for businesses and individuals. The distinctive style of GUBOP officers ? short haircuts, leather jackets and blue jeans ? deliberately mimicked the appearance of the criminals they were supposed to fight. Their influence extended widely. ?Almost from the start,? writes Donald Jensen of the Moscow RUBOP in his study of the ?Luzhkov system,?
RUBOP was not a fully budget-funded organization. Rather, it received funds from interested private firms and individuals, as well as public money. [?] In its diverse business interests and effectiveness in providing a krysha for some of the city's major businesses, as well as its ties to federal and city authorities, RUBOP resembled an organized crime group itself.84
After Rushaïlo was dismissed and replaced as minister by Putin loyalist Boris Gryzlov, there was much talk of dissolving GUBOP altogether, and attempts were apparently made to do so; yet GUBOP survived, albeit reduced in status and resubordinated to the regular crime-fighting hierarchy (Kozlov was superannuated from MVD in December 2002, and promptly landed on his feet as Deputy CEO of a major firm, ?Severstal?).
Berezovsky and the FSB
By 1998, the ?sacred alliance? of the major oligarchs, formed in 1996 in the face of a potential Communist comeback, had utterly collapsed, and as the end of Yeltsin?s reign slowly approached the fight over his succession began to heat up. Whereas, in terms of public notoriety, Yeltsin?s first term had been dominated by Most?s Vladimir Gusinsky, the key player of his second term was undoubtedly Boris Berezovsky. His term as Deputy Secretary of the Security Council, under Rybkin, did not last more than a year, and he was fired at Chubais?s instigation; but he had meanwhile successfully built up his relationship with Yeltsin?s closest entourage, the so-called ?Family? ? Yeltsin?s daughter Tatyana Dachenko, his ghostwriter and Head of Presidential Administration Valentin Yumashev, and the future and highly influential Head of P.A., Aleksandr Voloshin ? a tight-knit group of which he rapidly became one of the lead figures. Berezovsky of course had been seeking to gain influence over the various security organs; by 1998, he could fully count on the support of the Moscow RUBOP and of MUR (the Moscow Criminal Police department), and he had grown powerful enough to play a leading role in the downfall of Kulikov, who not only had opposed his protégé Rushaïlo, but was also fronting for the Chierny brothers, powerful Siberian mafiosi who were Berezovsky?s bitter rivals in the ongoing conflict for the control of Russia?s aluminium production. But Berezovsky also had powerful enemies at FSB, whose director Kovalev refused to cooperate with him. At the start of 1998, Berezovsky went after Kovalev and the FSB. On March 27 he requested a meeting and informed Kovalev that members of a top-secret FSB department, URPO, were seeking to assassinate him.85 URPO (the Directorate for the Analysis & Suppression of Activities of Criminal Organizations) was the successor department to the UPP, the Long-Term Programmes Directorate created after the first Chechen war under the direction of Colonel Yevgeny Khokholkov, the man who according to Aleksandr Litvinenko directed the assassination of Dzhokhar Dudaev. The UPP, replaced by URPO in 1997 (Khokholkov was promoted to Major-General), commanded substantial technical means, including its own transport, premises, and surveillance equipment, and controlled various ?private? security firms. Officially, it had been established by Yeltsin to fight organized crime; Litvinenko however claims that its main tasks were to carry out ?wetwork? for the FSB, including contract hits: ?[URPO] was established in order to identify and neutralize (liquidate) sources of information representing a threat to state security.?86 Indeed most of the information concerning URPO comes from Litvinenko; given however his proximity to Berezovsky and his deep implication in the dissolution of URPO and the fall of Kovalev, it is difficult to assess his reliability as a source. Berezovsky, at his March 1998 meeting with Kovalev, said he had learned of the murder plot from Litvinenko, who served at that time as a Lieutenant-Colonel within URPO; Litvinenko and his colleagues, ordered to kill Berezovsky by Khokholkov and his deputy Aleksandr Kamyshnikov, refused and informed first Yevgeny Savostyanov ? at this time Deputy Head of Presidential Administration in charge of the special services ? and then Berezovsky himself. It should be noted however that Litvinenko had previously worked closely with MUR, a Berezovsky bastion, knew Berezovsky personally, and had on occasion moonlighted for him. Kovalev suspended the suspects and ordered an investigation; in May, the investigators concluded that the charges were groundless, and Khokholkov and Kamyshnikov were reinstated. A few months later, however, Kovalev, weakened by Berezovsky?s intrigues and his conflict with FAPSI, was dismissed. Berezovsky meanwhile had returned to the government as Executive Secretary of the CIS. In November, he repeated the accusations against URPO in an open letter to the new Director of the FSB, Vladimir Putin; on November 23, he organized a press conference on ORT, a TV channel he controlled, during which Litvinenko and his colleagues, openly giving their names and ranks, told the story of the murder plot against Berezovsky and further accused URPO of seeking to kidnap Khusein Dzhabrailov, the brother of the notorious Moscow-based Chechen businessman Umar Dzhabrailov. The officers stated that Kovalev had full knowledge of the planned operations. URPO was then disbanded and Khokholkov was fired; Litvinenko and his colleagues were also sacked, finding jobs on Berezovsky?s staff at the CIS. (Litvinenko was subsequently arrested on unrelated charges, in spring 1999, and was exfiltrated from Russia, along with his family, with Berezovsky?s assistance. He now lives in the U.K., where he was granted political asylum, and remains very close to Berezovsky.)
Shortly before Kovalev?s dismissal, the FSB was once again restructured (see Fig. 4, above); it is possible that Stepashin, now Interior Minister, had some influence over these reforms as well as those undertaken under Putin a mere six weeks later. In line with the priority given to the economy, the Economic Counterintelligence Directorate was taken out of the Counterintelligence Department and made a samostoyatelnyi department, the DEB or Department for Economic Security. The military counterintelligence directorate, as already explained, was also made into a separate and more powerful unit. The Counterintelligence Department now included a Counterintelligence Operations Directorate as well as an Information & Computer Security Directorate. Russia indeed was beginning to pay more attention to the question of information security; in 1998, the FSB was given the legal right to force internet provider companies to install interception equipment on their servers, a system named SORM (System for Operational Intelligence Measures).
Putin returns to the organs
?I have come home,? Vladimir Putin declared before the FSB Collegium when introduced by Prime Minister Kiriyenko, in July 1998, as their new Director. With his nomination, a new chapter in the history of the Russian security organs was about to open; yet the beginnings were not auspicious. Putin, unlike his predecessor, could not be considered a high-level security professional; during his KGB career, he had only reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and he had left the KGB when the USSR broke up to go work for the Mayor of St.-Petersburg, Anatoli Sobchak, as his Deputy for External Economic Affairs. In this position, where he surrounded himself with former Leningrad KGB colleagues, Putin made many influential relations; there are also persistent allegations that he profited financially from his position, which would hardly have been unusual. When Sobchak lost his re-election bid in 1996, Putin stood by him, organizing his flight from Russia before he could be indicted by his successor on various charges of corruption and abuse of office. This show of loyalty apparently impressed people in Moscow, including Chubais, at this stage Head of the Presidential Administration; Putin, backed by Aleksei Kudrin (now his Finance Minister), was invited to come work in the Kremlin. There, he was given a position in the Kremlin Property Department under Pavel Borodin, another powerful member of the ?Family? who would later be indicted in Switzerland on corruption charges. In 1997 Putin was made Head of the Presidential Administration?s Main Control Directorate (GKU), a powerful oversight body described as ?a mini-KGB under the head of the government.?87 In June 1998 he was briefly named Deputy Head of Presidential Administration for relations with the regions, a position in which he first came into direct contact with the caste of powerful regional barons who allowed the Kremlin little say in the affairs of their fiefs; this experience certainly fueled his insistence on aggressively imposing a ?vertical of power? on the regional governors as soon as he came to power. A mere six weeks after taking up this position, however, he was moved over to the FSB. Two weeks later, Russia was hit by the financial crisis and its economy abruptly teetered to the brink of collapse. As turmoil rocked the government, Yeltsin continued restructuring the FSB (see Fig. 4 above): on August 26, the leadership was reorganized, with the FSB Director being given a second First Deputy, a State Secretary, and an additional Deputy; the Collegium was increased to seventeen members, whose nomination had to be approved by the President. The new State Secretary position was abolished in another reform on October 6, but the rank of the head of the St.-Petersburg UFSB was upgraded to Deputy Director (the position had been held since 1992 by Putin?s close ally Lt.-Gen. Viktor Cherkesov, who had succeeded Stepashin). That same month Putin brought another old ally back into the FSB: Nikolai Patrushev, who had replaced him as head of the GKU but had been dismissed after initiating a case against the arms-trading firm Rosvooruzheniya; Patrushev was made head of the DEB, with a rank of Deputy Director. Putin created a Department for the Security of Nuclear Facilities in October; in November, the Information & Computer Security Directorate was separated out from the Counterintelligence Department. As Director of FSB, Putin reportedly proved highly unpopular; the generals under his command resented being given orders by a former subordinate officer whom they considered an upstart political appointee, and subtly resisted his authority. The flight of cadres resumed, fed by the economic difficulties the FSB, like every government agency, suffered in the wake of the crisis. Putin, meanwhile, kept his eye firmly on the political ball, cultivating his relationship with Boris Yeltsin and securing, in March 1999, his nomination as Secretary of the powerful Security Council, while retaining his FSB post.
?The War of the Russian Succession?88
To replace the powerful Chernomyrdin, in March 1998, Yeltsin had chosen a relatively unknown young liberal economist, Sergei Kiriyenko. Berezovsky, through his media organs, did everything he could to oppose his confirmation in the Duma; as Fuel & Energy Minister, Kiriyenko had opposed Berezovsky?s attempts to rig the privatization of Rosneft, and he was close to Chubais, Berezovsky?s arch-enemy.89 Kiriyenko finally squeaked through the Duma, but, facing intense opposition on all sides, was unable to remedy Russia?s disastrous economic state; the August 17 financial crisis cost him his position after only five months on the job. Yeltsin, in his place, attempted to nominate Chernomyrdin again, but found himself blocked by an incensed Communist-dominated Duma. Finally, to avoid a constitutional crisis, Yeltsin dropped Chernomyrdin and nominated his Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov for the post. Primakov, a conservative, patriotic official with good ties to the Communists and a reputation for personal honesty, was immediately ratified by the Duma. As the former head of the SVR, he inaugurated the reign of the siloviki that dominated Yeltsin?s last years. Primakov however soon began steering his own course, one that looked increasingly dangerous for Yeltsin and his cronies. In the fall of 1998, the Duma began to initiate impeachment proceedings against Yeltsin. Primakov attempted to broker a deal in which the proceedings would be dropped and Yeltsin and his family would be guaranteed immunity after the end of his term; in return, Yeltsin would not change the composition of the government without the consent of the Duma: Yeltsin, pushed by his close advisors, refused. In December, in yet another attempt to shore up his weakening position, Yeltsin initiated a massive purge from his hospital bed, firing, among others, his Head of Presidential Administration, Valentin Yumashev, the P.A.?s Deputy in charge of the special services, Yevgeny Savostyanov, and the Director of FAPSI, Aleksandr Starovoytov. None of this did him much good, and his position was looking increasingly precarious: if the highly popular Primakov replaced him, as looked quite probable at that time, neither he nor his family would be safe from prosecution. His formerly loyal General Procurator, Yuri Skuratov, had already escaped his control. In February 1999, Skuratov, with Primakov?s authorization, launched a legal assault against Berezovsky?s empire as well as against several of his close allies, especially the banker Aleksandr Smolensky and the aluminium magnate Anatoly Bykov.90 Anatoly Chubais also found himself under investigation; and since December 1997 Skuratov had been assisting a Swiss investigation into Kremlin corruption that involved Pavel Borodin, Putin?s mentor at the Presidential Administration. His investigations were now directly targeting members of the ?Family.? At this point the new Head of the P.A. and Secretary of the Security Council, Nikolai Bordyuzha, showed Skuratov a videotape in which a man resembling him was seen frolicking with two prostitutes. Skuratov tendered his resignation, but the Federation Council refused to accept it and he rescinded it. In March, after a discussion with Primakov and Skuratov, Yeltsin fired Bordyuzha, replacing him with Voloshin at the P.A. and Putin at the Security Council. But Yeltsin was also forced to dismiss the embattled Berezovsky on April 2 from his position as executive Secretary of the CIS; four days later, with Berezovsky already abroad, Skuratov issued a warrant for his arrest. The tape was then leaked and shown on television; on April 9, Stepashin and Putin held a joint televised press conference in which they discussed the case. As the Russian political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky describes the scene,
I think the family around Yeltsin started thinking of Putin as the successor after the famous press conference with Putin and Stepashin. They had a chance to compare the two of them in this circumstance. Stepashin was Interior Minister and Putin was the FSB Director and you could see their behavior. It was necessary to prove the authenticity of the tapes showing Skuratov with the prostitutes. Stepashin was looking down at the floor blushing. Putin was calm and resolute as always. Putin reported confidently that ?we have conducted expert analysis of genitalia ? measurements and so forth and indeed this is Skuratov.? [Piontkovsky is being ironic in his choice of words, but Putin did indeed state that expert FSB analysis proved the man on the tape was Skuratov.] This was a very serious test. After this, the family could see that this one would go to any lengths. His readiness to serve in the Skuratov case made him a very serious candidate.91
Skuratov was finally removed, and his replacement, Vladimir Ustinov, promptly launched a criminal investigation against him. Berezovsky, in Paris, was rescued by Interior Minister Stepashin, who declared that if he returned to Russia to talk with prosecutors he would not be arrested. Stepashin kept his word; and upon his return Berezovsky unleashed a full-scale assault against Primakov, who was sacked by Yeltsin less than a month later, on May 12. ?The dismissal of Primakov was my personal victory,? gloated Berezovsky.92 The impeachment drive fell through three days later. But in spite of Berezovsky?s support for his protégé Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko, the man chosen to replace Primakov was Chubais?s choice, Yeltsin?s most loyal silovik, Sergei Stepashin.
Analysts still disagree as to whether Stepashin was only given the job to keep the seat warm until the plan for Yeltsin?s succession was ripe, or whether he was indeed, in the spring of 1999, being groomed as a potential successor himself. A comparison of Stepashin and Putin?s career clearly shows that while in the early 1990s Putin was a far more minor official than Stepashin, he rapidly began to catch up, and by 1998, when he was named to the FSB, he appears always just a step behind Stepashin, dogging his heels. It is possible that from a certain point onwards Putin was deliberately groomed as a potential fall-back candidate in case the Stepashin option didn?t play out; Lanskoy argues that he owed most of his major promotions to Berezovsky,93 which if true would reinforce this interpretation. Stepashin himself later made hints in this direction, claiming he had been dismissed as Prime Minister in August 1999 in part ?because he could not be bought.?94 This of course is not the whole truth: the initial plan to launch hostilities against Chechnya, which played such a significant role in Putin?s accession to power, had been drawn up by Stepashin in March 1999. But we will see that when it indeed came to full implementation of the plan Stepashin wavered; and Putin did not, and got the prize for his pains.
The events of the summer and fall of 1999, which brought Putin to power, remain shrouded in mystery; a great many allegations have been made concerning them, but the lack of any independent investigation make it impossible to prove or disprove the theories. The bare facts are as follows. On August 4, Daghestani islamic radicals led by Bagaudin Kebedov, who had recently returned from Chechnya to the mountainous district of Tsumada in Daghestan, clashed with MVD policemen, killing four. Stepashin flew to Makhachkala on August 6; the next day, over a thousand heavily armed fighters, mostly Daghestani but led by the famous Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev and his deputy, the Saudi mujahedeen known as Khattab, crossed over into Daghestan. Basaev declared that he intended to unite Chechnya and Daghestan into an Islamic Caliphate; heavy fighting immediately broke out with Daghestani and Federal forces. On August 8, Stepashin returned to Moscow and was dismissed; Yeltsin immediately named Putin in his place, presenting the little-known FSB Director to an astonished public as his choice as successor. The new Prime Minister vowed to crush the rebels within two weeks; major combat operations followed, during which command of the operation, as the Federal Forces suffered heavy casualties, was handed back and forth between the Armed Forces and the MVD. Putin loyalist Nikolai Patrushev was named to replace him at the head of the FSB. On August 23, after bitter fighting during which several villages were destroyed, Basaev and his forces withdrew to Chechnya; numerous eyewitnesses say that the Federal Forces did nothing to impede his retreat. On August 27, Putin flew to Makhachkala and ordered a punitive attack against the Wahhabi villages of the Kadar zone (to which Stepashin had granted limited autonomy a year earlier) even though they had not participated in the uprising. On the night of September 4, as the Federals were struggling to wipe out the last bastions of resistance in the Kadar villages, a car bomb destroyed a military housing building in Buinaksk, killing 64 people, mostly wives and children of officers. That same morning Basaev and Khattab launched a renewed incursion into the lowland Novolak region of Daghestan, coming within a mere five kilometers of the regional capital Khassav-Yurt and threatening Makhachkala. Federal Forces supported by local volunteers, including Akkhin Chechens from Daghestan, finally forced them back after more brutal fighting; meanwhile, the Russian Air Force had already begun bombing ?rebel bases? inside Chechnya as well as villages close to the border with Daghestan.
On September 9, in the middle of the night, a massive bomb completely destroyed a building on Moscow?s working-class Guryanova ulitsa, killing 94; a second explosion on the 13th, on Kashirskoe shossee, killed 119; on the 16th, a bomb targeted a building in the city of Volgodonsk, killing 17. As the country stood in shock before this unprecendent wave of terrorism, Prime Minister Putin blamed Chechnya ? whose President Maskhadov had immediately denounced Basaev?s incursions into Daghestan ? for harboring terrorists and vowed to pursue them anywhere, declaring, in a phrase now famous, that he would even ?ikh zamochit? v sortire,? ?waste them in the shithouse.? His firm demeanor combined with his use of crude criminal slang drove his popularity ratings (which hovered around 2% when he was nominated) through the ceiling and propelled him to the forefront of Russia?s political class. The failed bombing of a building in Ryazan on September 22 openly exposed the FSB?s involvement; when FSB Director Patrushev announced that it had in fact been an exercise (half an hour after Interior Minister Rushaïlo stated it was a failed terrorist act), few believed the excuse; a week after the incident, Aleksandr Lebed, answering a Le Figaro journalist who asked him if he thought the government had organized the terrorist attacks, created a sensation by saying out loud what many were thinking: ?I am almost convinced of it.? (Berezovsky promptly flew to Krasnoyarsk, where Lebed was now governor, to talk to him; no one knows what was said, but Lebed never repeated his allegations.)95 None of this however did anything to derail Putin?s rise. On September 23, he ordered the bombing of Groznyi, killing numerous civilians; Maskhadov?s frantic attempts to initiate a dialogue with Moscow or neighboring governors were openly blocked by the Kremlin. At the start of October, the Federal Forces, having amassed a joint body of over 100,000 Armed Forces and MVD troops, crossed into Chechnya.96 It seems that the initial objectives had followed the March ?Stepashin Plan,? which Stepashin himself publicly discussed the following year:97 the Federals were to bomb the main Wahhabi training camps in Serzhen-Yurt and Urus-Martan and advance up to the North bank of the Terek to create an impregnable cordon sanitaire around the wayward Republic; negotiations would then be initiated from this position of force. But Putin had already decided to go further. The decision to fully invade Chechnya was reportedly taken in Mozdok on September 20, at a meeting with the Chief of the General Staff, General Anatoly Kvashnin, called to iron out the parameters of the partnership between the new Prime Minister and the Armed Forces. Kvashnin was the leader of a group of generals who had made their careers thanks to the first Chechen war, and who had been profoundly humiliated by the August 1996 ?surrender;? at the meeting, apparently, the Army brass rejected the limited Stepashin plan and offered to back Putin fully if they were given a free hand in Chechnya: Putin accepted, cutting a deal that would come back to haunt him over the following years.98
Most of the theories put forth suggesting that the Daghestan incursions and the Moscow bombing campaign were part of a deliberate plan to start a war with Chechnya so as to build up Putin?s image and insure his election place Berezovsky squarely at the center of the plot.99 The evidence, mostly circumstantial, is too detailed to go into here, and the interested reader is referred to the extensive literature on the subject.100 For Daghestan, most of the evidence rests on Berezovsky?s known links to the Chechen islamic radicals, several transcripts of phone conversation between him and the radical leader Movladi Udugov, leaked to the Russian press in September 1999, and the extensive eyewitness evidence that Russian troops guarding the border with Chechnya were ordered back before the incursion, were on several occasions forbidden from engaging the rebels, and provided them with a ?corridor? back out of Daghestan (initial Federal bombings of Groznyi, while targeting a market and other civilian areas, mysteriously spared both Basaev and Khattab?s command posts, whose locations were well known to Russian intelligence). There are also numerous reports, partly substantiated by Berezovsky himself, that he paid several million dollars to Basaev; reports in the Russian media of a July 1999 meeting in Nice involving Basaev, his former GRU kurator Anton Surikov, Aleksandr Voloshin, and Berezovsky, seem, in spite of a grainy photograph, far less credible.101 A senior Chechen field commander, close to Gelaev, says that one of Basaev?s Wahhabi associates tried (unsuccessfully) to convince him to join the incursion, explaining to him that anti-Yeltsin elements in Moscow would remove all obstacles and give Basaev the ?green light;? once he had linked up with the Daghestani Wahhabis and taken Makhachkala, the ensuing crisis would serve to topple Yeltsin, and those who would take power in his place would write off Chechnya and Daghestan, leaving it to the radicals.102 Basaev certainly didn?t trust Berezovsky, but must have thought he could use him to get what he wanted; if this is the case, Berezovsky certainly got the better of the deal. Basaev at least demonstrated, by his behavior during the fall of Groznyi (he marched ahead of troops through a mine field and lost a leg) that he was more than just a buzinesman who sold himself to the Russians, as some strongly believed at the time; but it is well within the realm of the possible that Berezovsky, thanks to the ties he had built up over the years with him, was able to manipulate him. As for the bombings of the Moscow and Volgodonsk apartment buildings, those who believe they were conducted by FSB and GRU elements point first and foremost to the Ryazan incident, during which FSB agents clearly tried to bomb a civilian apartment building; when the plot was foiled and the agents were identified by local MVD and FSB officials, Patrushev initiated a crude and hasty cover up, claiming the whole thing had been a training exercise to test the vigilance of the population.103
Putin?s election, in spite of his skyrocketing popularity, looked anything but guaranteed in the fall of 1999. The Yeltsin camp now faced a powerful and organized opposition, determined to win the forthcoming Duma and presidential elections. The main threat remained Primakov. In the spring, after his dismissal, he had joined a ?party of governors? led by St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev and Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, Vsya Rossiya (?All Russia?), and formed a political alliance with Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who had set up his own vehicle, Otechestvo (?Fatherland?). When the two parties joined forces as Otechestvo-Vsya Rossiya (OVR) for the December 1999 Duma elections, Primakov was named number one on the list. It was clear to everyone that if the bloc did well, as was widely expected, it would serve as a platform to present Primakov for the Presidency, with Luzhkov as his potential prime minister. The threat to the ?Family? was dire; Giorgi Boos, the head of OVR?s campaign staff, even invoked the brutal death of Ceausescu and his wife to state that Yeltsin would meet his end in a ?Romanian scenario.?104 To counter the threat, Berezovsky and his Kremlin allies rapidly set about forming a political movement, the Mezhregionalnoye Dvizheniye Edinstvo (?Interregional Unity Movement?), better known by its acronym Medved (?Bear?) and later renamed Edinstvo (?Unity?) when organized as a party. The movement sought to gather governors who had declined to join OVR (such as Lebed or Primorskiy Krai?s highly corrupt Yevgeny Nazdratenko) under the leadership of the Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoïgu, the creator of GUBOP, Alexandr Gurov, and Aleksandr Karelin, a world champion in Greco-Roman wrestling. Its only platform was unconditional support for Putin and it was backed by a hastily set up but massive propaganda apparatus. Berezovsky, desperate to get Putin elected so as to ward off the threat from Primakov, who had promised to destroy his business empire and jail him, also used the media under his control to launch a vicious campaign against both his enemies: Luzhkov, thanks to his notorious refusal to distinguish clearly between public and private funds, made an easy target, whereas Primakov, more subtly, was painted as an aging and ailing Communist dinosaur in the mold of Leonid Brezhnev (Luzhkov on his side relied on Gusinsky?s NTV for violent attacks against Yeltsin and his entourage, but was not as successful as his adversaries). These tactics, combined with a strategic alliance with the Communists, succeeded: OVR, on December 19, barely obtained 13.33 % of the vote, while Edinstvo garnered 23.32%, which, added to the now-pliant Communists? 24.29%, gave the Kremlin broad backing from the Duma for the first time since the end of the USSR. Primakov and Luzhkov immediately understood which way the wind was blowing and promptly switched sides, obediently and shamelessly offering to align OVR with the Kremlin and pledge allegiance to Putin; Primakov, his ambitions crushed, did not even attempt to run in the Presidential election a few months later.
The war in Chechnya was in full swing: Russian artillery and airforce were bombing Groznyi and every other major Chechen town to rubble, provoking a mass exodus of refugees, and the first Federal troops were probing the defenses of the Chechen capital. By this point, the ?Family? had placed all its bets on Putin, fully realizing that they would lose direct control over him once he was elected: they had no other options. Already, Putin was moving to distance himself from Berezovsky; as early as mid-September 1999 the oligarch?s influence on Kremlin policy had visibly declined, though he continued to commit all his assets to Putin?s victory (he also had himself elected Duma deputy for Karachai-Cherkessia, which at least gave him legal immunity; his associate Roman Abramovich did the same, in the region of Chukotka). But the Kremlin remained worried: the presidential election was scheduled for June 2000, and much could happen in the meanwhile; if the campaign in Chechnya bogged down, with high Russian casualties, Putin?s manufactured popularity could plummet as rapidly as it had risen. A decision was thus taken to move up the electoral calendar. On the night of December 31, 1999, Boris Yeltsin appeared on television to announce that he was resigning; this automatically, by law, made his Prime Minister acting President until early elections to be scheduled within three months. Vladimir Putin, on the night of his greatest triumph, conspicuously eschewed the traditional Bolshoi New Year?s Eve Ball, preferring to pop his champagne in the company of his wife and his FSB crony Patrushev in a military helicopter flying over Chechnya. His first Presidential action, just before flying to Mozdok, was to sign a decree granting Boris Yeltsin full immunity from prosecution; on January 3, 2000, he sacked Yeltsin?s daughter Tatyana Dachenko from her position within the Presidential Administration, though he retained other lead ?Family? figures such as Voloshin or his Prime Minister-to-be Mikhail Kasyanov for several years.
4. The Security Organs Under Vladimir Putin
The Soviet leadership, historically, had always sought to keep strict political control over the security organs, and had barred security personnel from the highest reaches of power: not until Andropov was the rule broken, and even then with misgivings. It is thus not by chance that Andropov stands as Putin?s major political reference. Already in June 1999, while still Director of the FSB, he had solemnly laid flowers before Andropov?s grave at the Kremlin wall and his monument besides the main doors of the Lubyanka. His basic political formula, from the start, was more Andropov than Pinochet (the comparison most often resorted to by Western journalists): economic development, political control. And as with Andropov and perestroika, the security organs would be called upon to drive both facets of the process.
Yet Putin, compared with his truculent predecessor, entered the Kremlin with few assets. His personal power base, given his youth and the narrow scope of his career, was extremely limited: The FSB career leadership, for the most part, considered him an upstart; the other security organs were staffed with Yeltsin-era personnel; the Armed Forces, after his September 1999 Faustian bargain, had been cut loose to run their own show in Chechnya; the Government remained in the hands of the ?Family,? to which he owed his ascension; the Duma was split between Communists and born-again Putinites whose loyalty could not be taken for granted; the all-powerful governors had yet to be brought to heel; the middle bureaucracy, as always, would scrape and bow before the master, but would tear him to pieces the moment he showed weakness. His close allies, those who owed their careers to him and on whom he could count unconditionally, numbered no more than a handful: Patrushev, whom he needed for the FSB, Sergei Ivanov, whom he initially placed at the head of the powerful Security Council, Viktor Cherkesov, also at the FSB, Viktor Ivanov and Igor Sechin, whom he brought within his Presidential Administration to counter the influence of Voloshin, and a couple of others, far too few to effectively ?seed? the bureaucracies. Choices thus would have to be made, priorities would have to be set. And in this, Putin proved fairly effective, or at least acutely conscious of his limitations; he proceeded slowly, cautiously, methodically, building up his system of control joint by joint, lock by lock, gear by gear. It is even conceivable that he might have succeeded, had the systemic failings of Russia, which he proved unable to remedy, and the ineptness of his close associates not undermined his progress, generating one highly visible catastrophe after another, ruining his edifice from the bottom as he kept on piling up blocks at the top.
Putin did of course come to power with a few cards in his hands. The first and most important was his broad public legitimacy: after the chaos and misery of the Yeltsin years, the Russian people thirsted above all for order, a strong hand, and predictable rules of the game, and voted massively for Putin in the expectation that he could bring this about.105 Equally crucially, Putin benefited from a broad positive consensus among the country?s elite: there, after all the bitter battles to parcel out the defunct Soviet Union?s resources, the mood tended towards consolidation and thus once again order and predictability. Under Putin, the entrenched senior bureaucrats could expect limited personnel movement, and at least generous compensatory posts; the middle and lower bureaucracy counted on salaries being paid on time and even on raises; the security organs understood that Putin was one of their own and shared their values; the Armed Forces had been given the free hand they sought in Chechnya and the promise of increased budgets; the regional barons accepted that their wings would be clipped, but the most powerful awaited (and received) extensions on their terms in exchange; liberal economists banked on Putin to advance economic development and reform; big business was interested in fully legalizing their gains and moving towards open market transparency. Putin could be everybody?s man if he so wished.
The major liabilities were swiftly and brutally disposed of. Gusinsky, who with his NTV had backed the wrong horse, came first: his arrest in June 2000 signaled the launching of a massive legal offensive that ended with Gusinsky in exile in Spain, his Media-Most in the hands of State-owned Gazprom (now run by another St.-Petersburg Putin ally, Aleksei Miller), and NTV?s independence drastically curtailed. Putin approached Berezovsky more cautiously: in March, shortly before the Presidential election, he was still telling journalists that he often met Berezovsky, ?who has such a lively intelligence and many propositions?106 (Berezovsky and Abramovich, meanwhile, had brilliantly exploited the chaos generated by the elections and Chechnya to quietly corner the Russian aluminium market, snatching up the country?s best assets in February 2000 from under Deripaska?s nose). But by the fall of 2000 the Kremlin felt ready to take on its embarrassing former ally: in November, criminal charges were initiated against Berezovsky, and he fled to London where he rapidly sought to reinvent himself as a principled victim of political persecution, accusing Putin of threatening Russian democracy.107 Putin also discretely removed some of the more openly corrupt or criminal governors, such as Primorski Krai?s Nazdratenko; yet, to avoid rattling the elite, whose support he needed, he was consistently careful to find cushy new positions for them.
The first major reforms entailed bringing the restive regional barons in line108 and ensuring full control over all regional security organs. In May 2000, Putin divided the country into seven Federal Districts (Federalnye okrugi), dismissed the Presidential Representatives (PolPredy) in each oblast or Republic, and replaced them with seven PolPredy at the okrug level, four of whom initially were drawn from the ranks of the FSB (such as Viktor Cherkesov) or the Armed Forces.109 The military okrugs were redrawn to match the new federal ones. As Nikolai Petrov argues, ?the brain center and, at the same time, the basis of reform [was] the FSB;? the reforms, he adds, were initially coordinated by the Security Council, ?something of a strategic government? in 2000-2001 under the leadership of the FSB?s Sergei Ivanov.110 After the May reform, all power agencies were made to introduce an intermediary body at the okrug level (previously, only the Army, the VV, and MChS had such an intermediary body, at the military okrug level; and the MVD?s GUBOP, as discussed, had its own system of regional HQs). The only exception to this rule was the FSB, whose regional directorates remained directly subordinated to Moscow. The FSB did have its own form of intermediary level, Regional Councils created by Putin at the end of 1998, whose territories corresponded to those of the future federal okrugs; but these councils, which included not only the heads of the regional UFSBs but also their military counterintelligence deputies, were purely advisory bodies and had no administrative role. As Petrov writes, one of the main objective in creating the okrugs was
to seize back the levers of authority and ? control over the security structures, from both regional leaders and federal headquarters. [?] Once President, Putin naturally wanted to turn the security structures into a support for his rule. It was not enough to simply change ministers. In the best of cases it would take them a very long time to establish their own control over such enormous bureaucratic pyramids. By creating an intermediary administrative level between the central authorities and those in the regions it would be possible to break the ties binding the regional and federal levels of siloviki and, at the same time, to create a bridgehead from which to establish supervision over both the one and the other level. The okrugs thus formed a wedge between the federal hammer and the regional anvil.
The new system thus allowed Putin and his men to tease power away from both the regional level, by chipping away at the local symbiosis between governor and police or other security chiefs, and from Moscow, where the central security apparatuses remained centers of bureaucratic resistance to drastic reform. The okrugs also, logically, became the core of Putin?s cadre policy (which was probably spearheaded by Viktor Ivanov, Putin?s Deputy Head of Presidential Administration in charge of personnel issues, a veteran KGB official who had also been in charge of personnel at the FSB). Hundreds of young new officials were hired into the PolPredy?s staff, often from the FSB or other security organs, and after a brief period there were hived off to take up positions in the regions? administrative or security bodies. This provided Putin with a rapidly growing pool of cadres who, having received a major boost to their careers within a structure he had created from scratch, owed him everything; as they spread throughout Russia?s administrative tissue, their loyalty could be counted on to slowly counter the older elites. At the same time, as Petrov describes, ?the introduction of the okrugs permitted the reproduction of cadres in its full cycle to be restored (recruitment, training, preparation of reserve cadres) after the nationwide system, formerly exercised by the apparatus of the Communist Party, was destroyed in 1991.? Putin reintroduced the key principle of horizontal rotation, breaking down the system of local allegiances built up during the Yeltsin era, when a security or an administrative bureaucrat made his entire career in his home region before being ?called? to Moscow (Putin?s own career precisely follows this scheme, and he came to power with the baggage it entails: all his closest associates were St.-Petersburgers, forming a tight-knit, but relatively isolated clan. Loyalty to Putin among the important ?Moscow siloviki,? for instance, is a far more tenuous proposal). Under this system, up-and-coming siloviki would be sent out to a region to head a local directorate department for a year or two; they would then be brought to Moscow to work in one of the central departments for a year or so, to train them in a specific branch, before being sent back out to another region, often at the next step up the ladder. Within a year, as Petrov explains, systematic cadre rotation allowed Putin ?to replace the Defense and Interior ministers and begin a ?purge of staff headquarters?;? by 2004, he had achieved a ?wide-ranging renewal of regional management levels of MVD, FSB and Procuratura,? and had completed ?the transfer of the levers of control over the country?s numerous security structures into the hands of [his] close supporters and comrades in arms.? The system however was not implemented as thoroughly in every agency. The FSB, in fact, had maintained it to a certain extent during the Yeltsin years, though not as rigourously as during the KGB period, and accelerated it dramatically after Putin?s accession to power. The MVD had dropped cadre rotation altogether in the 1990s, allowing deeply entrenched ?old boys? networks? to develop in the regions; only in May 2002, under Boris Gryzlov?s leadership, was rotation ?elevated to the rank of a guiding principle in staffing policies.? As for the nation-wide system of the General Procuratura, it was ?the first to be subjected to large-scale personnel replacement, and yet its reforming has not yet been completed. It still employs many appointees from the 1990s who made their careers in their native regions.?111
Observers rapidly came to realize, over these first few years, how siloviki were infiltrating every walk of Russian life, often carrying over with them the peculiar mentality inherited from their profession.112 The phenomenon of course was not new; Yeltsin, as we have already noted, had come increasingly to rely on the siloviki in the last years of his reign. As Mukhin explains, there had in fact been three major waves of security service staff moving into the political, bureaucratic, financial, and business worlds. The first wave was comprised of high-level KGB cadres who left or were forced out of the services in 1991-95;113 the second wave were mostly lower-level cadres dismissed in the brutal reforms of 1995-99; the third wave began under Putin in 1999.114 The difference of course between the last wave and the previous ones was that Putin?s strategic placement of siloviki was deliberate, a policy only limited by the numbers of cadres available: the FSB could be a ?donor? for the reforms, but could not be gutted. Petrov, in his study of the federal reforms, concludes that Putin and his entourage?s objective was ?not so much to build an effective state as to set up an efficient system of supervision and control, to secure a strict governability within the state, and to strengthen the power ministries.?115
The first war in Chechnya had been fought in the name of the restoration of Russian constitutional order. The second, far more brutal and destructive conflict, however, would be conducted, officially, as an ?anti-terrorist? operation. That this had been planned for some time before the incursions into Daghestan and the bombings in Russian cities is suggested by a minor but significant modification of the FSB structure, implemented on August 28, 1999, but certainly prepared earlier, while Putin still headed the FSB: the 8. Directorate for the Protection of the Constitution, headed by Gennady Zotov, was merged with the 2. Antiterrorist Department, headed by Col.-Gen. Vladimir Pronichev, to form a colossal departmental complex: all the FSB departments concerned with relations with the regions, kidnapping, terrorism, political extremism, narcotics, and the North Caucasus, as well as the Tsentr Spetsnaz, were unified under Pronichev?s command, preparing the looming war as well as its official pretext (see Fig. 4, above, and Fig. 7, below).
The propaganda war had been equally well prepared: as soon as hostilities began, foreign embassies and international organizations received videotapes, compiled by the FSB, showing Chechens mutilating or decapitating dozens of captives; and this evidence of ?Chechen atrocities? certainly provided a convenient excuse for the muted reaction of most Western countries (we will discuss below how the FSB probably helped to generate most of this useful material). At the same time, Putin? February 7, 2000 decree reinforcing the powers of the FSB?s military counterintelligence branches within the Armed Forces (see below) also made it much easier legally for the FSB to control journalists? access to Chechnya.116 Overall coordination of Russia?s ?information war,? specifically designed as a response to Movladi Udugov?s brilliant 1995-96 propaganda campaign, was entrusted to Putin aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky; on the military side, it was enthusiastically sustained by Kvashnin?s deputy at the GenShtab, Col.-Gen. Valery Manilov, a career Army politruk (political affairs officer) and leading military ideologue. While combat operations were initially entrusted to the overall coordination of the Ministry of Defense and especially Kvashnin?s GenShtab, the security organs played a significant role from the very start of the war.
In the fall of 1999 the FSB formed a number of structures to manage its operational work in the North Caucasus. Probably the most important is the OKU SK (Operative-Coordination Directorate for the North Caucasus) within the revamped 2. Department, whose HQ is dislocated in Piatigorsk (Stavropol Krai). The FSB also formed a Temporary Operational Group of the 3. Department for Military Counterintelligence (VOG UVKR FSB), which was and remains subordinated to the HQ of the Joint Group of Federal Forces (OGFS). During the active combat phase of operations, subunits of the VOG entered Chechnya within each Group of Forces; while it is unclear to what extent their responsibilities were partly subsumed by ROSh, UFSB ChR or OKU SK (see below for more on these structures), they were until at least 2001 charged not only with military counterintelligence work but also with ?filtering? Chechen refugees, freeing Russian prisoners and hostages, and preventing terrorist acts.117 (The GRU?s exact relationship to the VOG, as well as its sharing of roles with the FSB in the field of military counterintelligence, remains unclear.) Once the ?combat phase? was over, and the Russians had set up a temporary administration for the Chechen Republic ? initially, under Nikolai Koshman, a Major-General in the Railway Forces who had already served as Prime Minister of Chechnya within Doku Zavgaev?s puppet government in 1995-96 ?, the FSB set up a Chechnya FSB Directorate (UFSB ChR), which reports directly to OKU (and thus does not follow the normal chain of command for regional FSB directorates); its first head was Mikhail Khripkov, followed by Maj.-Gen. Vyacheslav Kadyaev. The Ingushetia UFSB, whose long-time head Sergei Koryakov was publicly accused of torture and murder by several of his subordinates before he was discreetly transferred in the wake of Basaev?s June 2004 Ingushetia raid, is also reportedly subordinated to OKU.
On January 22, 2001, Vladimir Putin transferred responsibility for operations in Chechnya from the Ministry of Defense to the FSB. This was a first not just in Russian but even in Soviet history: ?Never before ? even during Stalin?s time, have the security services been given the control of a military operation,? writes Konstantin Preobrazhensky, a well-known former KGB officer and commentator. ?The transfer of control ? is clearly a political, rather than a strategic move.?118 The FSB set up a Regional Operational HQ for the Command and Control of Counterterrorist Operations in the North Caucasus (ROSh or Regionalny Operativny Shtab for short) in the military base at Khankala (Groznyi); ROSh, to which all other power structures were to be subordinated, was initially placed under the command of the Deputy Director of FSB in charge of the 2. Department, Rear-Admiral German Ugryumov, a career naval counterintelligence officer notorious for overseeing the prosecution of Grigory Pasko in 1997. ROSh and OKU are often confused, but they are in fact two distinct structures, though their responsibilities, characteristically for a bureaucracy mostly shaped in function of ongoing internal conflicts, overlap in many places. ROSh, it should be noted, is not an FSB department or structure but rather a coordination center at the level of the OGFS; every other service is represented within ROSh, the MO by its First Deputy Minister and Head of GRU, General of the Army Valentin Korabelnikov. Under Ugryumov, OKU was headed by Lt.-Gen. Anatoly Yezhov; the head of UFSB ChR was also replaced by a career military counterintelligence officer, General Sergei Babkin, who in 2000 had headed the VOG under the ?Western? Group of Forces commanded by General Vladimir Shamanov. Upon Ugryumov?s death in May 2001, his dual responsibilities were separated: his deputy Yezhov took over ROSh, while Maj.-Gen. Aleksandr Zhdankov became the Deputy Director of FSB responsible for 2. Department (See Fig. 7). In 2003, Putin, as part of his ?Chechenization? policy, ordered the FSB to hand over responsibility for operations to the MVD. The FSB strongly resisted this new arrangement, with some success apparently: when ROSh was finally handed over to MVD, on July 29, 2003, its new head was not the MVD general who had been named a month earlier, Lt.-Gen. Mikhail Pankov, but an FSB officer transferred the same day to MVD and made a Deputy Interior Minister, Rear-Admiral Yuri Maltsev.119
The FSB has proven unable to recruit agents and develop reliable networks in Chechnya, and is, according to most sources, incapable of effectively carrying out any form of ?agent work? (or human intelligence) against Maskhadov?s rebel forces. Its only serious means of operation are its ?special groups,? considered death squads by most independent observers. The January 2001 transfer of responsibility from the MO to FSB had indeed followed a certain logic: now that major combat operations were officially over, and most of the large-scale enemy armed formations had been wiped out, the emphasis had to shift to more targeted operations against remaining ?terrorist groups,? a task the FSB was considered more adapted to than the Army or the VV. On the ground, this signaled a shift, over the course of 2001, from wide-scale zachistki (cleansing operations), during which the Army or the VV randomly and indiscriminately swept up young men, tortured them, and resold them to their families (or resold their bodies if they did not survived), to what has come to be called imeny or adressny zachistki: targeted disappearances, or outright extra-judicial executions, of current or former rebels, their relatives, and numerous innocents. The FSB?s SSGs (svodnye spetsialnye gruppy, ?Mixed? or ?Ad-hoc Special Groups?), which number at least ten since April 2002, are deployed under the control of VOGOiP (Temporary Joint Grouping of Organs and Units), which in turn reports to ROSh; they are composed of operatives detached from various regional UFSBs as well as VV Spetsnaz (SOBR officers prior to fall 2002); according to available information, they operate on a basis of three months in the field followed by three months? rest. The Chechnya UFSB can also deploy a local ?Alfa? unit, which probably conducts tasks similar to the SSGs.120 It should be said that the imeny zachistki are conducted, often at night, by masked men who carefully conceal their exact affiliation: in addition to members of the SSGs, they most probably include so-called Kadyrovtsi ? Chechen troops loyal to the late Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov and his son Ramzan ? and GRU Spetsnaz (some of whom are Chechen). OKU SK has also been accused of deploying its own ?death squads:? an Ingush online journal has blamed OKU for the disappearance (and probable murder) of the Senior Assistant Procurator of Ingushetia Rashid Ozdoev, who himself was investigating disappearances.121 An MVD ?mobile unit? dislocated in Karabulak, and implicated in numerous disappearances and extrajudicial executions, has also been reported as subordinated to OKU SK.
The Federal Forces, in Chechnya, have partially compensated for their lack of HumInt by drastically boosting their SigInt and ElInt capacity. In 1999, they successfully closed the technology gap that had enabled the Chechen forces to secure their communications during the first war. The OGFS has set up a regional Radio Electronic Combat Grouping for surveillance and interception of Chechen radio communications. FAPSI, in turn, has set up a large-scale operation to monitor all radio airwaves in the North Caucasus, code-named ?Experiment 99.? Furthermore, FAPSI?s ?Terek? mobile communications system (installed in a BTR) assists efficient communications between the various service branches, largely overcoming a problem that had plagued them during the first conflict. Key Russian assets in this electronic war are a number of satellites launched prior to the conflict, which FAPSI shares with GRU: the GRU?s ?Tselina-2? satellite is ?the main player when it comes to interception of international electronic traffic, communications between the Russian power structures operating in Chechnya, and tracking, monitoring, decrypting and occasionally jamming Chechen communications.?122
The GRU has received much publicity over its role during the second Chechen conflict, deploying over 2000 officers and boasting to journalists about their exploits in eliminating Chechen field commanders. A widely commented legal case, however, has shed light on the carelessness and vicious brutality of these operations: the prosecution of GRU Captain Eduard Ulman and three of his subordinates for the murder of six innocent Chechen civilians in January 2002. Captain Ulman had set up a concealed roadblock in a mountainous region of Chechnya to intercept rebel fighters; seeing a mini-van approach, he and his men opened fire without warning, killing the driver and wounding two passengers. After approaching the vehicle and realizing that it contained only local residents, Captain Ulman radioed his command for orders: ?Ubrat?,? was the response, ?Get rid of them.? Captain Ulman and his men carried out the order, executing the civilians, including a pregnant woman, in cold blood, and setting fire to the vehicle and the corpses to make it seem they had exploded on a land mine. The trial of the four officers, conducted in Rostov, was one of the first Russian trials by jury and showed the limitations of the introduction of this system into Russian law courts: in April 2004, the jury acquitted all the defendants, who had admitted conducting the killings, on the grounds that they had been ?following orders.? Ulman and his men testified that the orders had been ?issued by Colonel Vladimir Plotnikov and relayed by Major Alexei Perevelevsky. Although Perevelevsky testified that Plotnikov issued the order, the colonel told investigators he had not issued it and he was not summoned to testify at the trial.? After relatives of the victims appealed the verdict, the Supreme Court overturned it and ordered a retrial; in May 2005, Ulman and his men were acquitted for a second time in the North Caucasus Military District Court by another jury, on the same grounds.123
Ever since the first Chechen war, the GRU had actively recruited Chechen operatives; in 2000-2001, it formed two Chechen-led and staffed search-&-destroy units: the Spetsnaz mountain battalions ?Zapad,? commanded by Said-Magomed Kakiev, a long-time personal enemy of Dudaev and Gelaev, and ?Vostok,? commanded by Sulim Yamadaev, a former rebel field commander who went over to the Federals with Kadyrov in November 1999. GRU special units have been responsible for the elimination of some of the more notorious Chechen commanders, such as Abu Movsaev, Arbi Baraev, and Baudi Bakuev. Particular circumstances have allowed a wealth of details to surface about these operations: in 2000, frustrated at the FSB?s deliberate obstruction of its efforts, GRU officers took the highly unusual step of leaking information about the FSB?s provision of krysha to criminal Chechen commanders to a number of selected journalists.124
The second Chechen war, just like the first, occasioned a bitter and even murderous rivalry between the different services and organs of the Federal Forces. This rivalry took root at the lowest field level, where it was mostly a question of money and survival,125 and grew to the highest, where it became a question of politics and also of money. Politics: once the active combat phase was over, the different services took broadly divergent views of Chechnya?s future. The Army, roughly speaking, sought to impose direct occupation, with the Republic being administered by a form of military governorship in the hands of a Russian official. The Kremlin, on the other hand, decided within six months to place at the head of the Republic a former rebel leader, Akhmad Kadyrov. Kadyrov, who had been named Mufti of Chechnya in 1995 by Dudaev so that he could call for jihad against the Russians, had turned against Maskhadov over his handling of the Wahhabi problem and had gone over to the Federal side, surrendering Gudermes without a fight in November 1999, together with the Yamadaev brothers. While Kadyrov was initially little more than a puppet in the hands of various bodies, he cleverly bided his time and lobbied the Kremlin to adopt a plan known as ?Chechenization,? which entailed a broad transfer of powers and of law-enforcement responsibilities to Kadyrov and his Chechen government. Kadyrov used every opportunity to gain more ground from the Federal center, firing Moscow appointees from his administration whenever he could and naming in their place his own men, many of whom had also fought the Russians; in addition, he was allowed to build up his own considerable armed force, the infamous Kadyrovtsi, made up mostly of former rallied and amnestied fighters. This policy obviously gave the rebels much leeway for infiltrating the Chechen government; and it is clear that Kadyrov broadly tolerated this, as a form of ?insurance policy? and also as a tool for negotiating further surrenders. The Army, which under this plan was confined to barracks in a handful of bases, and which was to play less and less of a role in Chechnya policy or (with the exception of its GRU special units) operations, violently opposed it, pushing forward its own, more pliable candidates ? such as Bislan Gantemirov or even Malik Saidullaev ? and often resorting to treacherous means (a number of well-informed sources believe for instance that the Army, and not the rebels, engineered Kadyrov?s murder on May 9, 2004).
Money: the war in Chechnya was swiftly commercialized and privatized by the ground-level commanders of the various Federal service branches. The opportunities the war provided for personal enrichment were innumerable: systematic and organized looting of villages; sales of arms and ammunitions to rebel forces; a brisk trade in scrap metal from destroyed factories; a lucrative illegal oil business, aimed at neighboring regions; the systematic racketeering at checkpoints; and, as already mentioned, a generalization of the practice of ransoming arrested men and women, whether guilty or not (rebels were in fact resold much faster, to their comrades-in-arms, than civilians, though at a higher cost), as well as of corpses. These various resources generated stiff ?competition? between services and units, who in effect combined gangland practices with politicking in seeking to corner specific markets or territories. In 2001, for instance, a number of Army oil tankers were destroyed on the Northern Garagorsk road out of Groznyi, officially of course due to rebel activity; in reality, these trucks were illegal exporting embezzled oil out of Chechnya to Stavropol on behalf of members of the Army command, and were destroyed by FSB operatives who wished to break the Army?s monopoly and take a cut of the trade.126 Here too the Kremlin?s ?Chechenization? policy threatened important vested interests, as Kadyrov increasingly sought to exploit his position to take over the illegal oil trade and control the reconstruction money budgeted by Moscow. It should be noted that these conflicts are far too complex and fluid simply to reduce to an ?FSB vs. Army? or ?FSB vs. MVD? scenario; interests and alliances shift unrelentingly, and the various processes at work, political and commercial, all constantly interfere with each other, rendering any interpretation of the latest events in the Republic tenuous and hypothetical at best.
It was in this context that the leaks from GRU (and other sources) detailed the FSB?s actions in protecting ? providing krysha ? for some of the most notoriously criminal Chechen field commanders, thus providing, as during the earlier FSB vs. FAPSI conflict, a glimpse of some of the hidden workings of the spetssluzhby. In October 2000, a GRU unit encircled the village of Sharo-Argun to capture Baudi Bakuev, a commander involved in several high-profile kidnappings, including those of Valentin Vlasov and MVD General Vladimir Shpigun (a close personnal friend of Stepashin who reportedly died in captivity after the war started). The FSB sought to provide Bakuev with a ?corridor? to escape, but he refused to trust the man they sent to warn him and chose to flee through the forest instead, only to be shot when he ran into the GRU ring (the military demanded $40,000 from his family for the return of his body; his wife Luisa, in despair, joined the Chechen commando that stormed the Dubrovka theater in October 2002 and died there). Yet the most famous case is that of Arbi Baraev. Baraev, a Wahhabi field commander born in 1973, had gotten his start as a bodyguard in the DGB under Geliskhanov. At the end of the first war, in August 1996, he became linked with the mysterious Fattakh, the most important Arab radical and Islamist financier in Chechnya at the time, and grew close to Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, who had succeeded Dudaev upon his death as President of ChRI. Yandarbiev set up Baraev with his own unit, the IPON (Islamic Special Purposes Brigade). Baraev, over the following year, developed a reputation as a major kidnapper, and also became known as a psychopath, violating the most basic Chechen societal norms by murdering women and elders; his ?unit? was said to be composed mostly of hardened criminals and narcotics addicts. Baraev and his close associates the Akhmadov brothers are held responsible for some of the most brutal killings and kidnappings of the period (as well as for twice attempting to assassinate Maskhadov): the murder of six ICRC nurses in December 1996, the on-camera mutilation of numerous hostages, and the gruesome decapitation of the four Granger Telecom engineers in December 1998. The video and photographic material conveniently generated by Baraev and his partners went straight to feed the FSB?s propaganda efforts at the start of the second war. When the Federal Forces began their siege of Groznyi, the Wahhabi commanders retreated to the mountains, promising to prepare bases for their comrades which however never materialized. Baraev is even said to have betrayed Gelaev to the Federals after the retreat from Groznyi in February 2000, leading to the March disaster in Komsomolskoe. As early as April, Baraev was consistently reported by locals to be living in his house in Alkhan-Kala and to be passing through Russian checkpoints without obstruction; the Akhmadov brothers, living in Urus-Martan, were doing the same. In May, GRU officers passed copies of Baraev?s FSB accreditation, listing him as a Colonel, and other similar compromising material to a young Chechen journalist. Several days later, before they could transmit to him further material concerning Baraev?s associate Ramzan Akhmadov, the journalist along with his GRU escort was arrested by FSB and GUIN officers, taken to the Russian base at Khankala, and severely beaten. He probably would have been killed had not his escorts? commander, who had been seeking them after they failed to return, found them in a pit in Khankala and rescued him at the same time. Articles he and his colleagues subsequently published claimed among other details that the FSB, in 1998, had outbid by $2 million the employers of the kidnapped telecom engineers in order to secure their death and decapitation.127 Baraev meanwhile was also maintaining close contacts with the rebels, participating in Basaev and Khattab?s war councils and occasionally ordering mine attacks against Russian military convoys: many Chechens at the time felt he was playing one side off the other, telling each he was just using the other, and meanwhile trying to enrich himself and survive as long as possible. Ramzan Akhmadov died in a GRU operation in February 2001. In May 2001, Vladimir Putin flew to Khankala and publicly berated the seniormost officers in charge of the operation in Chechnya; his chief of ROSh, FSB Vice-Admiral German Ugryumov, died shortly thereafter, officially of a heart attack provoked by Putin?s diatribe. Various sources however reported that he had either been arrested by the GRU and died, possibly indeed of heart failure, under interrogation, or that he had committed suicide after a conversation in his office with a ?mystery man.? With his main krysha out of the way, the GRU moved in on Baraev. The operation was thoroughly prepared: the GRU recruited a number of Chechens who had a blood feud either with Baraev himself or with his associates, to help track them down and identify them. Baraev was cornered on June 23, 2001 after a six-day zachistka in Alkhan-Kala; according to several well-informed sources, he sought refuge in a nearby FSB base which the GRU then stormed, killing an FSB official. Baraev was taken to Khankala where he died after lengthy torture; eighteen of his men died with him, hunted down by the GRU?s Chechen krovniki.128 By the end of 2001, the GRU had ?rolled up? all the major commanders reported to have been directly protected by FSB; this however has little affected the course of the war, as a new generation of field commanders, far more discrete, less compromised, and more genuinely radical has arisen to take their place. The GRU, of course, has itself also been accused of providing krysha for Chechen rebels, most notoriously in the case of Shamil Basaev, who after nearly seven years still eludes all Russian attempts to catch or kill him.
Information about the involvement of the security services in terrorist and criminal acts linked to Chechnya ? whether out of corrupt local interests or as a matter of policy, so as to generate provocations ? continued to surface after the 2000 GRU leaks. In January 2001, the Head of Mission of the Médecins sans frontières aid group, Kenny Gluck, was kidnapped in Stari Atagi by an Islamist rebel unit; he was released less than a month later after a direct intervention by Shamil Basaev, who claimed in a letter he posted on a website that the FSB had tricked a small Wahhabi group into kidnapping a foreigner in exchange for the liberation of ten of their men. Gluck?s kidnapping, it should be noted, corresponded with a number of important international diplomatic events, including a visit to Chechnya by the PACE rapporteur Lord Judd. MSF has also publicly alleged official Russian involvement in the kidnapping of another of their volunteers in Daghestan in August 2002, though the interplay between the central and the local, the commercial and the political levels is even more obscure in this case. An American scholar, John Dunlop, has extensively detailed the evidence concerning special service complicity in the dramatic October 2002 Moscow ?Nord-Ost? hostage-taking.129 The Russian authorities themselves have admitted low- and mid-level complicities in the series of attacks led by Shamil Basaev over the summer of 2004, beginning with his raid in Ingushetia and culminating with the catastrophic hostage crisis in Beslan; most of these accomplices, however, work for MVD and not FSB, and some may have helped Basaev for ideological rather than purely financial reasons.
Leaks about the September 2004 Beslan hostage crisis vividly illustrate the FSB?s propensity for operational camouflage and the creation of ad-hoc parallel structures in response to emergencies. In each of the North Caucasus republics, the government had set up a Republican Antiterrorist Commission, responsible for crisis management in case of an attack. The Commission was chaired by the Republican president; his deputy was the Head of the local FSB directorate. Accordingly, when a number of terrorists took over a thousand adults and children hostage in Beslan?s School no. 1 on September 1, 2004, the North Ossetian President, Alexandr Dzasokhov, assumed command of the operational headquarters. On noon of the second day of the crisis, FSB First Deputy Director Col.-Gen. Vladimir Pronichev ? the former head of the merged 2. Department, since then promoted and placed in charge of the Federal Border Guards Service, after its incorporation in FSB in 2003 ? ?showed Dzasokhov a decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov appointing [North Ossetian UFSB Head Maj.-Gen. Valery] Andreyev head of the operational headquarters.? In April 2005, however, a Moscow News journalist received photocopies of the interview protocols of Dzasokhov and Andreyev by investigators from the North Caucausus branch of the General Procuratura; these protocols revealed that ?there had been formed in Beslan two headquarters: a formal one, upon which was lain all responsibility, and a secret one, which took the real decisions.? The secret headquarters, set up in a third-floor office of Beslan?s town hall, was commanded by unidentified senior Moscow FSB officers and Kremlin officials, who arrived on September 1 with their own equipment. Dzasokhov was one of the few members of the ?formal? operational HQ granted access to this shadow center; even then, it seems, information was concealed from him. Neither Pronichev nor Vladimir Anisimov, another FSB Deputy Director known to have been present, figure on the list of members of the official HQ provided in his protocol by Andreyev; it is quite possible that Pronichev, a man generally considered the FSB?s leading antiterrorist expert (he commanded the operational HQ during the Dubrovka hostage crisis in Moscow, in October 2002), actually ran the botched rescue operation. Russian media has speculated that both Dzasokhov and Andreyev were put forward as figureheads, to channel public frustration and anger if things went wrong (as they dramatically did), and to shield the reputations of other, more important officials. Andreyev was removed from his position shortly after the crisis, though he was named Deputy Head of the FSB Academy, a prestigious position; Dzasokhov resigned after months of public protests on May 31, 2005.130
The Chechen attacks of summer 2004 led to yet another restructuring of the antiterrorist apparatus in the North Caucasus. Up to the June 22 Ingushetia raid, the lead agency in case of a terrorist attack or a hostage-taking was automatically the FSB. Immediately after, however, a new structure was set up in each of the North Caucasus republics called GrOU (gruppy operativnogo upravleniya or ?Operational Direction Groups?), which in case of an attack would be composed of armed units of FSB, MVD, VV and MChS. Command of these GrOUs was entrusted to twelve VV MVD colonels, whose identity remains secret, and who were named deputy chairmen of their respective Republican Antiterrorist Commission, thus making them second only to the republican president in the struggle against terrorism. In case of a terrorist attack, the affected republic?s GrOU now automatically takes charge of the operational staff for the duration of the crisis (it should be noted that during the Beslan crisis, in September, this arrangement was not implemented; the Colonel heading the North Ossetia GrOU was simply made a member of the ?formal? operational HQ). Observers understood this change to signal a shift of emphasis, in the struggle against terrorism, towards MVD and away from FSB; MVD, it seemed, would now direct any operational action, while FSB would limit itself to information collection and analysis and counterintelligence. The MVD, in 2003, had already formed its own anti-terrorist unit: Tsentr ?T,? which is subordinated to GUBOP, and headed by First Deputy Head of GUBOP Colonel Yuri Demidov (in December 2004 GUBOP was reformed as DBOPT or ?Department for the Struggle against Organized Crime and Terrorism?). This Tsentr ?T? in turn controls a number of regional units, and possibly to some extent the GrOUs. It seems however that since then a new top-secret service has been formed specifically for the North Caucasus, out of elements of FSB, MVD and GRU. No information about this service, even its name, is available, other than the fact that it is headed by a senior officer of the OGFS, therefore a VV MVD officer. In general, and in spite of the FSB?s struggle to retain control of ROSh, the specialized Russian press tends to argue that the FSB is distancing itself from an unwinable war and unpreventable terrorist attacks, and is slowly trying to shift the burden and thus the blame on to MVD.131
Spetssluzhby: reorganization and reform
Putin?s constant reorganizations have affected the security services as much as the rest of the government, and with as little success. The stated objective, of course, has been improving efficiency and meeting new and growing threats. The reality of the reforms, however, appears mostly to reflect brutal bureaucratic infighting, as well as the difficulties faced by Putin and his team in gaining control over often refractory bodies.
Before 2003, Putin took no drastic measures in regard to the security organs, limiting himself to administrative tinkering while moving his close allies into key positions and consolidating his grip over the services. The FSB?s powers were rapidly reinforced in certain key fields. For Putin, especially given his September 1999 ?pact? with the Army and Kvashnin?s iron hold over the GenShtab, relations between the FSB and the Armed Forces were a priority. His February 2000 decree, already mentioned, confirmed the Statute of the FSB directorates in the Armed Forces, other troops, military formations and organs, including the VV MVD, and gave FSB military counterintelligence additional powers in relation to the military bodies it supervised, thus strengthening, unifying and centralizing the system of the osoby otdely. The new statute tasked the FSB with ?preventing, within the limit of [its] powers, unauthorized actions with weapons of mass destruction? and ?combating illegal associations aiming at forcible seizure of power;? it obliged commanders, who in the past, when faced with a security threat, had only to inform their hierarchy, now to take action to eliminate such threats directly; finally, it gave the FSB the power ?to investigate the finances of other power structures.? The FSB?s 3. Department remained under the control of Deputy Director Lt.-Gen. Vladimir Petrishchev, a veteran KGB military counterintelligence officer who had previously headed the VV MVD?s Military Counterintelligence Directorate.
In 1999, the FSB began providing counterintelligence to major strategic firms such as Gazprom or Lukoil, a move reflecting the FSB?s expanding focus on economic questions. In August 2001, the FSB Deputy Director in charge of the 4. Department for Economic Security (DEB), Maj.-Gen. Yuri Zaostrovtsev, was made a member of a Security Council commission charged with drafting an ?Economic security concept.? Zaostrovtsev, who had been named Deputy Director in the spring of 2000, and who has been called ?the economics brain of the Petersburg Chekists,? had originally headed the Directorate for Counterintelligence Provision to the Banking and Financial Sphere; in this capacity, he is reported to have coordinated the legal assault against Gusinsky and Media-Most. He then took over the DEB, whose resources had been significantly boosted in 2000; in September 2001, he was also made a board member of ?Aeroflot? (the naming of security officials to the boards of major companies at least partly controlled by the state was fast becoming a common practice of Putin?s presidency). The relations between the FSB and big business ? formalized through the Consultative Council ? are multifaceted:
Like all other power structures, the FSB has ?interest groups? in the largest Russian companies. Alfa-Group [controlled by Mikhail Fridman, the owner of ?Vympelcom?] and Sibneft [controlled by Roman Abramovich] have very good contacts with the FSB, Lukoil and Gazprom with the SVR. Gazprom has also close links with FAPSI. The contacts are either at the top level, between the special services? top managers and the owners and directors of large companies, or there is a medium-level ?operational? manager and rank-and-file connection. They result in commercial links and the not always legal transfer of information. The companies provide undercover positions, jobs for special services personnel and ex-security associates; the special services on the other hand offer access to commercial secrets, provide security warning and protection of specific companies, and so on.132
Economic security however was not to be the province of the FSB alone. In December 2000, Putin approved a plan to create a new Financial Intelligence Service under the FSNP (Federal Tax Police Service). However, though he publicly announced the formation of the new service in October 2001, it never did come into existence, defeated by numerous forces aligned against it: not only big business, worried that it would ?become a political tool of the leadership,? but also the MVD and Prime Minister Kasyanov, who both wanted control of the new agency for themselves. In its place Putin finally created a Financial Monitoring Committee under the Ministry of Finance, at whose head he placed in November 2001 one of his old colleagues from St.-Petersburg, former Deputy Minister for Taxes and Levies Viktor Zubkov (who, in his capacity as head of the St.-Petersburg branch of ?Unity,? has reportedly published a children?s alphabet decorated with the face of young Vova Putin). This Committee was mainly tasked with investigating money laundering and capital flight; at the start, it employed 200 people in its central apparatus, and another 100 in its regional subsections, one of which was set up in each Federal okrug.133
The FSB also renewed its attempts to monitor the internet in Russia. The initial attempt to set up a SORM in the servers of internet providers had not proved much of a success; in 1999, the FSB unveiled a SORM-2 and once again insisted it be installed on every server, at the provider?s expense. This provoked some complaints, but only one case of outright resistance: Nail Murzakhanov, a Volgograd provider, refused to install the system, and actually won a court case when the FSB revoked his license, though he continued to suffer constant legal harassment. Critics feared that the system would give the FSB a broad capacity for abuse and violation of privacy. As a Washington Post article notes, ?Both the Russian constitution and a 1995 law prohibit law enforcement agencies from monitoring phone calls, pager messages, radio transmissions, e-mails or Internet traffic without a court order. But ? an obscure set of technical regulations issued in the late 1990s permits total access without ever approaching a judge.?134 In the end, after some public squirming and a good deal of bad press, every Russian provider quietly complied and installed the system. Specialists however note that the FSB?s technical capacity to filter and analyze the mass of data it has thus gained access to remains highly limited. SORM is run out of the FSB?s UKIB (?Computer & Information Security Directorate?), headed in 2000 by B. N. Miroshnikov, and subordinated to the 1. Department for Counterintelligence supervised by Deputy Director Col.-Gen. Oleg Syromolotov (see Fig. 7 above).
By 2000, the FSB?s total personnel was assessed at 92,000.135 Applicant levels however had fallen from 10 per opening at the FSB Academy in 1997 to 6 per opening in 2001. ?Because of personnel shortages,? writes Bennett, ?the FSB began to accept back some of its former officers who left the services in the 1990s to work for commercial companies or other government organizations.? Pay remains low: at the end of 2000, a lieutenant entering FSB received 2,000 rubles ($70) a month; in 2001, this rarely rose over 3,000 rubles ($100), though officers could supplement their pay both legally, through bonuses for tasks and perks, and illegally, through moonlighting, providing krysha services, or selling classified information (including to foreign governments, as was acknowledged in June 2000 by the head of the FSB?s Internal Security Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Smirnov, as well as by Patrushev himself). The FSB?s budget has however been rising. In 2002, the FSB was reportedly to receive roughly $600 million, though this figure, as Bennett notes, was set before September 11, 2001, and must have been subsequently adjusted to meet renewed priorities. According to former FSB director Nikolai Kovalev (in a September 2001 interview), ?the FSB has been receiving enough funds to pay personnel but not enough to develop the technical equipment required or to conduct scientific research to produce equipment necessary for combating terrorism.? In 2005, in the wake of the Beslan attack, the FSB budget (whose amount is classified) was increased by 25%, though Prime Minister Fradkov publicly noted that ?some parts of the FSB budget have grown so much the agency is already having trouble spending all the money.?136
The Russian spetssluzhby and the rest of the world
Russia, all through the 1990s, worked closely on the relations between its secret services and those of the former Soviet Republics.137 Relations were occasionally strained, as the new nations often had widely divergent interests, and naturally sought to gather intelligence on each other. But Russia, which had inherited the cream of the former KGB?s assets, was clearly in the dominant position and thus could set the terms of the relationship. The first joint meeting of the heads of all CIS security services took place in March 1995 near Moscow; a coordination secretariat was set up, the Council of the Heads of Security Services and Special Forces of the CIS. Over the following years, a number of treaties were signed formulating cooperation between the twelve countries138 in the struggle against drugs, weapons smuggling, organized crime and terrorism. Beginning in 1997, a CIS Special Services Databank was set up, with a mechanism regulating access to confidential operational information; the first part of the data bank was completed in July 1998. Russia also in the latter half of the 1990s increased its bilateral cooperation with its close neighbors. In May 1997, in the framework of the plan to unite Russia and Byelorussia, the two countries set up a Russian-Byelorussian Union Security Committee, which was originally chaired by a First Deputy Director of FSB, Anatoly Safonov (see Fig. 4, above).
Cooperation continued and expanded under Vladimir Putin. In October 1999, FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev was elected chairman of the CIS spetssluzhby Council. In April 2000, the participants agreed to the creation of a CIS Antiterrorist Center (ATTs SNG), to be headed by FSB General Mylnikov.139 Russia pays 50% of its budget (approximately $1 million for 2002). The Center opened in June 2000, with its operational HQ located in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and has been involved in the struggle against Central Asian radical Islamic groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). But Russia?s relations with the different CIS states vary widely: Georgia, though officially supporting the CIS?s antiterrorist efforts, and in spite of Moscow?s pressure, has refused to allow Russian services to operate on its territory to root out Chechen rebel groups. In February 2000 the FSB?s foremost antiterrorist expert, Vladimir Pronichev, led a delegation to Tbilisi to discuss joint actions against ?terrorists,? Chechnya border problems, and the security within Russian bases in Georgia. Pronichev?s visit accomplished little, however, as Georgian President Shevardnadze continued to tolerate the Chechen presence in the Pankisi Valley, appearing in the company of former Chechen Vice-President Vakha Arsanov and even publicly complimenting Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelaev after his failed August 2001 raid on Abkhazia. The US, which has backed Georgia?s resistance to Russian demands, set up in April 2002 a $65 million Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP), officially designed to boost Georgian military capacity to root out ?terrorist? and radical elements on its territory. Neither this pretext nor a highly publicized ?cleansing operation? in the Pankisi Valley, launched by Georgian forces in August 2002 (and in fact directly coordinated between the Georgian MO and Gelaev?s aides), fooled Russia, but it could do little to interfere. Russia was also obliged to accept an OSCE monitoring mission tasked with patrolling the Chechen-Georgian border, which made it more difficult for Moscow to invoke massive Chechen infiltrations from Georgian soil.140
Russian relations with Western and other foreign special services also follow a double dynamic of cooperation and rivalry. Russia remains deeply suspicious of the secret services of its former enemies or of countries such as China, and the FSB is constantly discussing the activities of foreign spies on Russian soil.141 In the first year of Putin?s presidency, Russia launched two highly publicized espionage cases against Americans, both of which resulted in a prison sentence: in the first, a businessman called Edmund Pope was arrested by the FSB and accused of attempting to obtain confidential torpedo designs; in the second, John Tobbin, a young exchange student, was arrested on minor drug charges, but was rapidly accused by the FSB of conducting undercover intelligence work against Russia. Russia itself, of course, has attempted and still attempts to conduct intelligence work abroad, both through the SVR and its rival the GRU. Russia?s main interests in this field are economic and technological intelligence, though the usefulness of the information it may acquire is limited by Russian industry?s low capacity to absorb and develop technological innovation. Under Putin, the SVR acquired additional means, such as the Balashikha communications station, which was transferred from FAPSI in mid-2000. Russia?s foreign intelligence assets however have suffered from economic restrictions and, under Putin, from a realistic calculation of their relative cost and usefulness. Thus, in 2001, Putin took the decision ? bitterly contested in Russian intelligence and military circles ? to shut down the Lourdes radioelectronic center in Cuba, once the pride of the USSR?s intelligence capabilities against its glavni protivnik, its ?main enemy.? Lourdes? equipment, by 2000, must have been at least partly obsolete, and it was felt that economic intelligence alone could not justify the cost of maintaining the base; it officially closed in December 2001. Putin also ordered the closure of the Russian naval base at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, which was completed by May 2002.142
Deeply entrenched Cold War reflexes, however, do not prevent the Russian security organs from cooperating and exchanging information with their Western counterparts. Beyond the fields of organized crime, drug and weapon trafficking, and nuclear proliferation, Russia had already in the 1990s been cooperating with the West on the question of terrorism.143 In 2000, when Putin came to power, the FSB and other services had developed close contacts with their US counterparts: both George Tenet, the Director of CIA, and Louis Freeh, the Director of FBI, visited Moscow that year for high-level meetings. FBI officials based in Moscow also worked closely with GUBOP and other structures to help solve the kidnapping of several Americans in the North Caucasus. In October 2000, a Russia-US working group on countering terrorist threats in Afghanistan met in Moscow; as a follow-up, Russia organized an anti-terrorist group composed of FSB, SVR, FPS and MO personnel, which continued to work with the Americans. September 11 of course came as a blessing for Putin, whose international position had been damaged by the ongoing Chechen conflict: Putin immediately recast Chechnya as a ?haven of international terrorists? and pledged Russia?s full support for the US-led ?War against Terror.? The Russian services, though sometimes reluctantly, were obliged to follow Putin?s lead, and provided the US with a great deal of hard intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Afghanistan (Russia also acquiesced to American use of air bases in Central Asia, in spite of the risk that a US military presence there could well become permanent; as of this writing, the US military has been made to leave Uzbekistan, but retains a base in Kyrgyzstan). In return, the US effectively gave Russia a blank check to solve its Chechnya problem, and most of Europe followed suit. Cooperation, however, has again grown strained since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, which Russia strongly opposed.
Getting control over the MVD, whose central apparatus was a bastion of support for the Yeltsin ?Family,? and whose regional structures were for the most part infeodated to the local governors, was another priority for Putin. Once again he moved slowly, waiting over a year to dismiss Rushaïlo. The man he selected to replace him, in March 2001, was not a member of his inner circle, nor even a silovik, but rather a proeminent St.-Petersburg politician who had played a key role in creating the pro-Putin party Edinstvo and who now headed the ?United Russia? fraction in the Duma, Boris Gryzlov. Gryzlov, in his quest to reform the MVD, built on the work of his predecessors, especially on the plans drawn up but never implemented by Stepashin in 1998; at the same time, the changes drew on the new structures created by Putin, especially the Federal okrugs. In June 2001, Putin decreed the creation of an okrug-level police administration, a GUVD to be headed by an MVD Colonel-General, most of whom were recruited in the following months from various regional internal affairs department.144 The heads of the oblast UVDs or republican MVDs now report directly to the okrug GUVDs, which has weakened their transversal links to the governors; in addition, the President together with the central ministry took full control of all senior appointments down to the regional level. Regional police chiefs, as Petrov writes, were henceforth ?to give up their horizontal coordination with the governors in favor of vertical subordination to the Ministry in Moscow.? Local governors maintained responsibilities in regard to street crime and public order, but lost all control over the ?crime-fighting? bloc, united by Gryzlov into the SKM (Criminal Police Service) Stepashin had dreamed of, to which are now subordinated GUUR, GUBEP and GUBOP (i.e. regular, economic and organized crime police ? see Fig. 6 above). This system was further strengthened by the introduction within the okrug GUVDs of RUURs and RUBEPs to mirror the existing RUBOPs. It should be noted that Gryzlov, upon discovering the extent of corruption at GUBOP, made several public announcements about dissolving this ?unreformable? structure altogether; GUBOP and the RUBOPs, however, survived, even though Gryzlov formally ordered them disbanded in August 2001. It seems that the twelve existing RUBOPs were indeed broken up and that their assets and staff were used as a basis for the formation of the GUVDs; Petrov explains that in their place, seven ?operative-investigative bureaus attached to GUVD? were set up. However, there are now still seven RUBOPs functioning within the GUVDs, proving, if nothing else, the profound resilience of bureaucratic structures in Russia.
Beginning in 2001, plans for a drastic overall reform of MVD were put forward. The MVD, at this point composed of thirty-seven main directorates and directorates, would be divided into three agencies respectively in charge of criminal police, order police, and internal order (the VV). Public order police functions would be taken over by municipal police forces, under the administrative and budgetary responsibility of the regional authorities. The central ministry would retain control over a Federal Police which would include the ?criminal bloc? as well as the formerly autonomous Federal Migration Service, placed under MVD in 2002. Finally, the VV MVD, also under central control, would be renamed the Federal Guard; while their troop levels would be reduced, their special purpose units would be strengthened and their functions would include suppressing riots, fighting illegal armed formations, and law enforcement activities.145 It seems however that strong resistance to this plan has been hindering its implementation. As of this writing, the MVD has indeed been once again restructured, on November 18, 2004, but into fifteen departments, four byuro, and a Sledtsvennie kommitet in charge of the pretrial investigation of criminal cases (instruction in French). Both GUUR and GUOOP (the public order police) have become Departments bearing the same name; GUBOP has become, as described above, the DBOPT, with the struggle against terrorism being added to its anti-organized crime functions. Finally, GUBEP, which after the dissolution of the FSNP in March 2003 (see below) became GUBENP (Main Directorate for the Struggle against Economic and Tax Crimes), was rebaptized DEB (Department for Economic Security, just like its FSB counterpart ? which however in turn became a Service, SEB). While the move from thirty-seven to twenty administrative subdivisions can be considered a form of progress, it remains far in both letter and spirit from the ?Western-style, modernizing? reforms so loudly touted by Gryzlov and his colleagues.
Another very public topic under Gryzlov?s leadership was corruption within the MVD, and upon taking over the ministry he rapidly launched a number of highly advertised campaigns against what soon became known as the ?werewolves in epaulets,? resulting in some cases in the purge of entire departments. To lead his anticorruption efforts, Gryzlov brought into the MVD a number of senior FSB officials, including Maj.-Gen. Konstantin Romodanovsky, a career KGB 5. Directorate officer, who took over the MVD?s Department of Internal Security; he also promoted his Deputy Minister Col.-Gen. Rashid Nurgaliev, another FSB transfer overseeing the MVD?s Inspection Directorate since 2000, to First Deputy Interior Minister in charge of SKM. As of this writing, however, and in spite of numerous dismissals and arrests, Gryzlov?s efforts in the struggle against MVD corruption seem to have borne as little success as Kulikov?s or Stepashin?s. It has however allowed Putin and the FSB to secure their hold over the MVD, by removing a great many stubborn officials. Putin?s nomination of the FSB?s Nurgaliev to succeed Gryzlov, in March 2004, can be seen as the logical continuation of this process.
The 2003 reforms and after
The major reforms of the security organs initiated in March 2003 were the culmination of several years of bureaucratic infighting. In 1999 already, a document produced by a Duma commission on national security mostly staffed by Rushaïlo protégés had proposed ?... to unify the Russian security services on the basis of the MVD, which has been subject to the least amount of ?reform? in recent years and as a result not only preserved but substantially raised its operational capabilities.?146 In 2000-2001, FSB director Patrushev reportedly proposed to bring the SVR and the FSO (Federal Guards Service) under the FSB, a project that was sharply opposed by Sergei Ivanov, then still Secretary of the Security Council. At the same time, some media speculated that Putin, backed by Ivanov, would move to merge the GRU and the SVR, in order to create a ?super-intelligence service? that would serve as a counterweight to the FSB (the rumors partly arose, after Ivanov?s nomination as Defense Minister, from his having named several SVR generals to the GRU collegium, as well as from his own SVR background). The decision made public by Putin in March 2003 adopted none of these ideas or proposals. According to Putin?s decree (see Fig. 8 below), the FSP (Federal Border Guards Service) was incorporated into the FSB; FAPSI was abolished and its resources shared out between the FSB, FSO and GRU; the samostoyatelnyi FSNP (Federal Tax Police Service) was also abolished, with its functions being taken over by a new vedomstvennyi FSENP (Federal Service for Economic & Tax Crimes) within MVD, while its personnel and physical assets (buildings, vehicles, etc.) went to form a new samostoyatelnyi special service, the GKKN (State Committee for Controlling the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Trade), to be headed by Putin?s close ally Viktor Cherkesov.
The final form of the reforms was obviously the result of a great deal of horse-trading.147 The most bitterly contested assets were FAPSI?s. In the original plan, reportedly, the former KGB 8. & 16. Directories (for radioelectronic intelligence and counterintelligence) were to be given to the MO (Ministry of Defense), coming under GRU though as support to SVR. The FSB, on its side, would get the fundamental basis of FAPSI: all its telephone, mobile telephone and internet assets, and all the secure government communications assets, including the GAS ?Vybory.? The strategic importance of the computerized ?Vybory? system for transmitting election results had been publicly made clear back in 2000 when the outgoing governor of Kursk oblast, Aleksandr Rutskoi, whose re-election bid was strongly opposed by the Kremlin, openly accused FAPSI of orchestrating his defeat. The FSB was also to inherit from FAPSI its cryptography and deciphering departments, and the legal right to conduct foreign intelligence. However the FSO and its powerful chief, the ?Petersburger? Maj.-Gen. Yevgeny Murov, backed by his deputy and head of SBP Viktor Zolotov, weighed in and were able to secure a renegotiation of the division of spoils that took the FSO?s interests into account. In the end, the FSO got a cut from both the MO and FSB, taking over one of FAPSI?s main functions: ?to ensure the exploitation, security, development and improvement of the system for special information for the government organs.?148 The FSO?s new SSSI (Service for Special Communications and Information), placed under a Deputy Director, includes a directorate in charge of managing government communications, another one for government military communications, a Main Directorate for Information Resources, a Main Directorate for Information Systems (which includes pre-electoral monitoring and the GAS ?Vybory?), and also inherited some FAPSI infrastructure, the Orlov Academy, and the Voronezh Institute. Simultaneously, the FSO was beginning to play an active role in the budding campaign to secure Putin?s March 2004 re-election, role which may explain the final attribution of the ?Vybory? system. At the time Murov secured this victory over his rivals, the FSO was slowly regaining its once-powerful position. Under Murov, FSO officials had again become very active in business projects, and the FSO had been involved in a number of shady customs deals. Furthermore, the FSO was not only serving the interests of Vladimir Putin and the Presidential Administration: in August 2005, Izvestia reported that the FSO had played a role in the controversial privatization of two multi-million-dollar state-owned villas by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and oligarch Mikhail Fridman. An FSO Deputy Director, Anatoly Protsenko, who had signed one of the key agreements in the dubious transaction, was hired after his retirement in 2004 by Fridman?s Alfa Group, to head its subsidiary Alfa Telecom.149
The absorption of the FSP by the FSB, as a samostoyatelnyi (within FSB) service under the control of First Deputy Director Vladimir Pronichev (see Fig. 7 above), made the FSB into the second largest armed formation in the country after the Army. It also increased the FSB?s role in antiterrorism, as the pogranvoïska were granted additional prerogatives in this field. The merger also gave the FSB additional intelligence capacity when it took over the FSP?s intelligence department.
The dissolution of the FSNP and the subordination of tax enforcement functions to MVD appears as a logical move, all the more so as the FSNP had developed a powerful reputation for corruption and inefficiency. The MVD?s new FSENP was placed under the control of yet another FSB ?Petersburger,? Lt.-Gen. Sergei Verevkin-Rokhalskiy, a career regional KGB/FSB head who like Ugryumov had been involved in the Pasko case; in April 2000, Putin had named him Deputy Minister for Taxes and Levies, and a year later Deputy (later First Deputy) Head of the FSNP. The outgoing and little-known head of the FSNP, Mikhail Fradkov, did not entirely disappear from public view: after a year as Russia?s Plenipotentiary Representative to the EU, he was named in February 2004, to considerable public astonishment, Prime Minister of Russia in place of Mikhail Kasyanov.
The creation of the GKKN was the biggest surprise of all. Both the MVD and the FSB already had anti-narcotics department, though the 7,000 staff of the MVD?s GUBNON were transferred to the GKKN to supplement the 30,000 employees acquired from the FSNP. While Putin officially justified the new agency by Russia?s pressing need to intensify its struggle against the drug trade, observers speculated that its creation might have had as much to do with boosting Cherkesov?s personal position. Cherkesov, who studied law with Putin and gained much notoriety persecuting dissidents as an official of the Leningrad UKGB?s 5. Directorate, is one of Putin?s closest and most reliable allies. After eight years as the head of the St-Petersburg UFSB (during which he orchestrated the prosecution of the environmentalist Aleksandr Nikitin), Cherkesov worked at the start of 2000 within Putin?s presidential campaign staff; after the election, he was named PolPred for the North-West Federal okrug, one of two ?chekists? appointed to this position. Petrov interprets Cherkesov?s 2003 GKKN appointment as ?the first signal of a return of the siloviki from the federal reform to the security reform. It may be taken as evidence that the main part of the federal reform, linked to the reconnection of the power ministries, has been successfully accomplished and the regrouping of the ?old guard? has begun, with its transfer to the new major area of development.?150 Mukhin notes that the appointment allows Cherkesov to report directly to Putin, bringing him to the same level as Patrushev and Gryzlov (the PolPredy report to the Presidential Administration, though this does not mean that Cherkesov did not have personal contact with the President), and suggests that Cherkesov may be gunning for either of their jobs, at which point the GKKN, having served its purpose, would be dissolved. Be as it may Putin has created with the GKKN (since renamed FSKN, Federal Service for Controlling the Narcotics Trade) ?a powerful new special service with broad powers of intelligence and counterintelligence,? a ?superdepartment? comparable, according to Itogi, to the American FBI.151 The FSKN is not only tasked with chasing drug smugglers and dealers but has also been given control over the highly lucrative legal pharmaceutical trade in narcotics (whose main players include Roman Abramovich, the AFK Sistema and a number of foreign companies), as it has the power to dissolve, through the court system, any firm found dealing in the illegal drug trade. To date, though, the FSKN?s only publicized actions have involved arresting veterinarians who were using the drug Ketamin to operate on pets, and ?chasing ? dacha poppy-growers to pad its arrest statistics.?152 In one major incident, a FSKN office was attacked by Islamic militants in Nalchik in December 2004, and four employees were killed, the office?s arsenal was looted, and the building was set on fire; it is not known however if the FSKN was targeted because of its specific responsibilities, or was just caught up in the militants? general struggle against the authorities. In September 2005, an independent study conducted by the Moscow Helsinki Group, a human rights organization, and Indem, an anti-corruption think tank, concluded that ?The [FSKN] is opaque and prone to corruption, while its rank-and-file staff lack any clear-cut mission and often commit abuses.?153 ?One of the main conclusions we arrived at is that the [FSKN]?s focus is not on undermining the financial foundation of the illegal market, as the president instructed it to be, or on preventing drug use from spreading, rehabilitating drug users or coordinating all of these efforts,? stated one of the report?s co-authors, Lev Levinson. ?It is focusing on cracking down on so-called drug crimes.? The FSKN responded to the criticism by forcing Interfax to remove an article about the report from its web site, and by threatening to take the two groups to court.
The persistent reports that Putin would move to create a unified security bloc were thus not realized. The chief result of the reforms was essentially further conflict between the special services: the FSB and FSO were at odds over FAPSI, and the MVD and the GKKN/FSKN over the FSNP; as for the GRU?s interests, they had hardly been taken into account, and the assets it obtained from FAPSI were minor.154 (Sergei Ivanov?s position however was substantially reinforced by a parallel reform thanks to which he gained full control over all Russian arms sales. He granted an important position in this field to the outgoing director of FAPSI, Col.-Gen. Vladimir Matyukhin, whom he made a First Deputy Defense Minister in charge of a new State Committee for State Defense Orders under the MO.) The reforms also demonstrated what Petrov describes as Putin?s preference for restructuring or creating new bodies ?from the materials at hand? (as had already been done when GKU cadres were used to form the staff of the PolPredy, or when RUBOP?s assets were used to set up the GUVDs):
It proved quicker and more effective when such restructuring was carried out not from within but from without. Such tactics are wholly compatible with the logic of the security services. There is no room here for a lengthy coordination of interests, a complex balance of forces or for nuances ? there is either something that is ?ours? and fully under control or something that is ?not ours.?155
A further round of reforms was undertaken over the summer of 2004 (see Fig. 8 above, and for the FSB in particular, Fig. 9, below). The command structure of the central apparatuses of the FSB and the MChS, and a week later of the MVD, were considerably reworked and streamlined. In all cases, the number of Deputy Directors or Deputy Ministers supervising various departments was dramatically slashed. The central staffs were restructured and, in the case of MVD, reduced by 20%; salaries were raised. The organization of departments and directorates was also overhauled once again, with a number of departments being made into ?services,? a transformation that either brought little more than a change in leadership or proved entirely cosmetic. A September 2004 analysis of the implementation of Putin?s decree within the FSB concludes that most of the reforms amount to a ?facelift.?156 Serious changes have only touched a few branches. The 2. Department for the Protection of the Constitution and the Struggle against Terrorism (now the Service for the Protection etc.), in addition to having its leadership reshuffled, received a new subdivision, the Directorate for the Struggle against International Terrorism, in Soldatov?s words an ?innovation [that] comes in response to the ongoing search for an external enemy.? The Military Counterintelligence Department has lost its samostoyatelnyi status to become a Directorate subordinated, under its new chief Col.-Gen. Aleksandr Bezverkhny, to the new Counterintelligence Service; this Service, still headed by Col.-Gen. Oleg Syromolotov, has in return lost the Computer & Information Security Directorate (UKIB), which has become a samostoyatelnyi Center for Information Security. The FPS, finally, still under the control of First Deputy Director Vladimir Pronichev, is continuing to undergo reform of its regional structure, ?moving from the linear principle of border protection to point/area protection.? The FPS?s ten regional directorates will be reduced to seven, one in each Federal okrug, and each further subdivided into two or three territorial directorates. In addition to these changes, a new Science and Technical Service was created, and the former Inspection Directorate has now become an even more powerful Control Service, taking under its umbrella a number of directorates from the former 7. Department for Operational Support Services; it is headed by the former chief of the 2. Department, Ugryumov?s successor Aleksandr Zhdankov, who in turn has been replaced at the helm of the antiterrorism service by Aleksandr Bragin. Another rising star of the FSB is its new First Deputy Director Lt.-Gen Sergei Smirnov, former head of the Internal Security Directorate and of the St.-Petersburg & Leningrad oblast UFSB, who is widely rumored to be first in line to replace Patrushev if this latter is promoted to a deputy minister position.
The overall impression left by these changes, especially the reduction in the number of deputy directors, is that the services are grappling with serious command-and-control issues, and are seeking to tighten central control by narrowing a broad horizontal organizational scheme into a smaller number of vertical lines. There is evidence to suggest that the problem of internal insubordination is a serious one: in the case of the FSB at least, the central apparatus?s control over some of its regional directorates has proved markedly tenuous. It remains unclear however whether this problem mainly concerns the North Caucasus UFSBs, or other ?Russian? directorates as well. Though in the Southern ?ethnic republics,? like everywhere else, the UFSB chief is, if not an ethnic Russian, at least a native of a different region than the one where he serves, these particular directorates (and probably those in Tatarstan and Bachkortostan as well) are heavily staffed by native personnel. While it is impossible to argue that native officials? degree of corruption and collusion with local criminal structures is any worse than that of their Russian colleagues, they are certainly enmeshed within family or clanic networks that generate a powerful set of alternative pressures, pressures over which the FSB has little hold and which produce a high level of individual initiative, whether in the best interests of the service or not. Whether, in turn, the occasional blatant obstruction of Moscow?s directives by the UFSB chiefs is due to their own involvement in illegal activity, or to a bureaucratic urge to protect themselves by covering up the errors of their wayward subordinates, is impossible to assess. The problem is even worse within the ethnic republics? MVDs, where Moscow in spite of all the reforms is still struggling to overcome the principle of ?ethnic appointment;? there, it has proved far more difficult to extricate police chiefs profoundly imbedded in the local social fabric from the influence of regional political players, making these ?ethnic? republics some of the last bastions of resistance to the security reforms.157
The problems just evoked are part of a much broader pattern. It is probably fair to state that the massive corruption of state officials, or more precisely the extraordinary degree of privatization of bureaucratic powers and of governmental decision-making processes, is the greatest problem now facing Russia and those who seek to rule it. Lennart Dalgren, the Russia director of the Swedish firm ?IKEA,? provoked a major scandal in December 2004 by stating out loud what everybody knows: ?The problem is that the entire system is based on corruption.? And the Yukos affair, as a major French daily writes, seems to have only intensified the problem, ?inciting numerous civil servants, in the depths of Russia?s regions, to adopt an even more predatory behavior.?158 No matter how well intentioned any of the government?s reforms, they are systematically undermined by the private interests of those tasked with executing them; and the refusal to allow any form of external supervision, be it parliamentary oversight, journalistic freedom or a strong civil society, only compounds the crisis. It is a basic axiom of institutional sociology that no bureaucracy can reform itself; but Putin and his close entourage seem, in their drive for the establishment of a ?vertical of power,? to have forgotten this fundamental principle. It is not that the Kremlin is unaware of the problem, or does not perceive the danger it poses. The seniormost officials of the government regularly castigate official corruption, and the major administrative reforms spearheaded by Putin?s aide Dmitri Kozak have been presented as a step towards a solution. However, as Elena Panfilova, the head of the Russian branch of Transparency International, argues in a recent interview, ?the regime, by emphasizing the restoration of the State and by increasing the number of civil servants and of federal agencies, has worsened corruption. [?] The days of valises full of bills is [indeed] more or less over. Now, corruption is organized by firms of ?consultants? who work completely openly.?159 Having failed to answer the old question shto dyelat? (?What is to be done??), the Kremlin, typically, turned to kto vinovat? (?Who?s to blame??). It seems inevitable that the security elite currently holding power would seek to shift the blame away from a purportedly ?clean and professional FSB, staffed by the cream of modern Russia,? onto the shoulders of its traditional rival, the ?corrupt MVD? haunted by ?werewolves in epaulets.? This was all the easier as hardly a single adult Russian has not been a victim of police corruption, if only at the hands of the traffic police or the ID office, whereas the FSB benefits from its invisibility: few ordinary citizens have ever had direct contact with the institution, and thus have any personal experience of its current practices. And ordinary Russians are not the only ones to buy into the FSB?s self-image; Zbigniew Brzezinski, no friend of the current regime, was not afraid to declare in a recent interview: ?The political elite ? has its roots in the finest flower of the KGB, the best selected, educated, trained and the most privileged.?160 The special services and especially the FSB are thus presented as the solution to Russia?s woes rather than a part of them, an image that goes back to Andropov ? probably Putin?s greatest ideological influence. Yet this image of course is a pure fiction. Several cases leaked to the press over the past few years have hinted at the degree of high-level corruption within the FSB. In the fall of 2001, for instance, the General Procuratura initiated a criminal case against senior customs officials accused of demanding a $5 million bribe from the owner of two furniture importing companies, ?Tri Kita? and ?Grand.? The Customs service, in retaliation, charged the companies with fraud and non-payment of import duties; and the case then snowballed when the press revealed that the companies involved in the scam were managed and partly owned by the FSB?s senior-most economist, Deputy Director Yuri Zaostrovtsev. No action of course was taken against Zaostrovtsev, who continued to run the FSB?s DEB until the spring of 2004 when he retired to become Vice-President of ?Vneshekonombank.? Mikhail Fradkov, the Prime Minister, has also recently alluded publicly to problems with the FSB?s practices in the economic realm. In a January 2005 speech in which he urged senior FSB officials to help improve the country?s investment climate, he ?discouraged the FSB from favoring certain companies, saying that some intelligence officers do so to give their private businesses an edge. ?We are going to fight this just like we fight corruption,? he said.? Following this speech, a former senior FSB official elaborated on the problem in an interview with Izvestia: ??The problem is that both the Interior Ministry and the FSB provide turnkey services, since both have investigative and operational branches and thus can ?close? a rival and seize his business.? [?] Such broad powers have been used by corrupt officers to open investigations into businesses to extract bribes or to help one business seize another in exchange for a large payoff.?161
It is of course conceivable that Vladimir Putin actually believes the rhetoric deployed by his FSB cronies; possible that he is ill-informed about the true state of things. This would not be so surprising in a man who, in his first major interviews as President, admitted that from his earliest childhood he dreamed of joining the KGB: ?I went to work for the agencies with a romantic image of what they did,? an image developed by reading Soviet spy novels and watching films such as The Sword and the Shield.162 The late Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, in his last interview, publicly tried to warn him: concerning Chechnya at least, ?Putin has been profoundly misinformed? by the Russian security services, top Russian generals, and his aides. ?There is a well-established practice in the army of reporting what your superior wants to hear from you,? Maskhadov said, suggesting ?that Russian intelligence probably operates according to a similar practice.?163 Putin, of course, had no interest in such a message; a few days later, Maskhadov was dead, killed either by the FSB or the Kadyrovtsi.
Maskhadov, in his statement, was probably being deliberately naïve; for it seems far more likely that Putin is fully aware of the extent of the problems rotting away his cherished services. He openly admitted so during his painful and awkward September 2005 meeting with the mothers of several children killed at Beslan: ??I must say immediately: I agree with those who believe that the state is not in a condition to provide for the security of its citizens to the extent necessary,? Putin said. [?] He added that the military and intelligence services had been ?knocked out? and were ?in a state of partial paralysis? after the Soviet collapse and the first war in Chechnya.?164 But Putin is also aware that there is little he can do to remedy this. The dynamics he has set in motion force him more and more to rely on the security organs to guarantee his power, a power that in the past year has shown itself far more fragile than most observers suspected. Yet it is not by tolerating the services? corruption and abuses, and by fatally weakening every element of society or state not under his direct control that might serve as a check on them, that Putin will achieve his stated ambitions, as limited as these might appear to some.
Secret services, by nature, are a tool, considered necessary by the modern State, and they directly reflects the level of that State?s development. The problem of Russia?s security organs are the problems of the development of the Russian State as a whole, problems that have never found an adequate solution, not under tsarism, not under communism, and not under the present ?democratic? arrangements. Unless Putin can solve the overall and pressing question of the relations between the Russian State and the Russian people ? and there is little indication that he will or even wishes to ? he will never have at his disposal special services capable of more than persecuting ecologists, journalists and academics in the name of protecting state secrets, looting the country?s wealth and crippling its potential for economic development in the name of fighting organized crime and corruption, and resorting to death squads and assassinations in order to solve grave and complex social, political and economic problems.
1 Cited in Albats? groundbreaking KGB: State Within a State, p. 198. This discussion draws mainly from her book (cf. in particular Chap. 4: ?Who was behind Perestroika??, pp. 168-203). The notion that the KGB had ?stage-managed? perestroika was put forward in the West by Andrew & Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story.
2 Some authors believe that Gorbachev was little more than a ?front man? for the KGB; cf. Albats, op.cit., p. 199-200. The notion was first advanced by Avtorkhanov in his 1986 Ot Andropova k Gorbachëvu.
3 See Albats, op.cit., pp. 246-51.
4 Stratfor, ?Russia in 2000? (no author named). Stratfor is a US-based company that describes itself as ?the world's leading private intelligence provider.? The report cites no sources but certainly relies on the authors mentioned above. Cf. www.stratfor.com.
5 Albats, op.cit., p. 247.
6 Cited in Belton, Catherine, ?Khodorkovsky?s High Stakes Gamble,? The Moscow Times, 16.05.05.
7 See Albats, op.cit., pp. 243-46.
8 Ibid., pp. 332-3. Albats gives precise examples in the pages following.
9 Some sources assert that only the 1st, 2nd, 8th and Border Guards were ?Main Directorates? (Glavnoye Upravleniye), and that all others were simple ?Directorates? (Upravleniye). See Albats, op.cit., p. 27.
10 Favarel-Garrigues, ?La transformation policière en Russie post-soviétique.?
11 Information mainly drawn from Bennett and www.fas.org.
12 Albats extensively discusses the role of the KGB in the coup. Cf. op.cit., Chap. 6: ?The Coup,? pp. 268-93.
13 Cf. Bennett, ?The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation,? and Mukhin, Putevoditel po Spetssluzhbam Rossii.
14 Cited in Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 6.
15 Ivanenko and Bakatin were summarily sacked. See Albats, op.cit., pp. 305-6.
16 Both positions ? Heads of the Moscow and Leningrad/St.-Petersburg Directorates ? also held the rank of Deputy Director of AFB, and subsequently of Deputy Security Minister.
17 Felshtinsky & Litvinenko, Blowing up Russia, p. 8.
18 Data in Volkov, Violent Entrepreneurs, p.131.
19 A department or directorate within an agency, while by definition vedomstvennyi, is called samostoyatelnyi when it reports directly to the leadership (usually to a Deputy Director or Minister) rather than to another higher-level department.
20 Additional formations included, in addition to the Armed Forces, those of the MB/FSK/FSB, the soon-to-be autonomous Border Guards, FSNP, SVR (which has some Spetsnaz units), GUIN (under Ministry of Justice after 1998), the Spetsstroi or Special Building Service, and the Gostamkom or Customs Committee. See Petrov, ?The Security Dimension of Federal Reforms,? p. 5, who does not however count the GFS in his list [note: page numbers for Petrov are per a draft version of this forthcoming article].
21 Some 200,000 staff left the MVD every year between 1991 and 1996, of which one quarter were sacked for violations of the law. For this and the subsequent discussion, cf. Volkov, op.cit., pp.132-135.
22 Volkov, op.cit., pp. 93-94.
23 Ibid., p. 132.
24 Ibid., p. 136. According to data cited by Volkov, the heads of half the existing ChOPs are ex-KGB, a quarter come from MVD and a quarter from GRU and other agencies. By 1998, there were 156,169 licensed private security employees in Russia, of which 22.6% came from MVD and 7.9% came from the KGB-FSB.
25 Cited in Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 10.
27 Volkov, op.cit., p. 136.
28 Cf. Bennett, ?The FSB,? and Mukhin, op.cit.
29 For this and the following information, cf. Mukhin, op.cit., pp. 63-66.
30 Volkov, op.cit., p. 170.
31 Ibid., p. 171.
32 Cited in Gall & de Waal, A Small Victorious War, p. 153.
33 See, for a different case study, Donald Jensen?s useful article ?The Boss: How Yuri Luzhkov Runs Moscow.?
34 Korzhakov, Boris Yeltsin, p. 285.
35 Volkov, op.cit., p.172. See furthermore pp. 87-96 for a description of the practices of criminal groups, which are also often employed by government agencies.
36 Ibid., p. 173.
37 The subtitle of his book Violent Entrepreneurs.
38 The most important authors, beyond Volkov, are Vadim Radaev, Gilles Favarel-Garrigues, Frederico Varese, as well as a number of Russian academics.
39 Volkov, op.cit., p. 22.
40 See, for instance, Radaev?s article ?Entreprise, protection et violence en Russie à la fin des années 1990,? in Favarel-Garrigues, ed., Le Crime organisé en Russie: nouvelles approches.
41 Cited in Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 13.
43 Ibid., p. 14.
44 Gall & de Waal, op.cit., p. 163.
45 Only one minister, the Cherkess Justice Minister Yuri Kalmykov, resigned in protest over the decision, though he too had voted in favor at the SC meeting on November 29, 1994.
46 Gall & de Waal, op.cit., p. 208.
47 Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 14.
48 Rezun has published a number of books under the name Viktor Suvorov. On GRU, see his Inside Soviet Military Intelligence.
50 Maksim Kalashnikov, ?Chelovek, kotoryi verboval Basaeva? (?The Man who Recruited Basaev?), Stringer, 10.07.02, available at http://www.compromat.ru/main/surikov/basaev.htm.
51 Felgenhauer, ?Nukes will not be used,? The Moscow Times, 19.10.04.
52 Gall & de Waal, p. 270.
53 Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 16.
55 Felshtinsky & Litvinenko, op.cit., p. 113-114.
56 Ibid., p. 116.
57 Dudaev was assassinated by a Russian missile guided by the signal from his satellite phone. Litvinenko (op.cit., pp. 35-39) claims that the operation was conducted by Yevgeny Khokholkov, who subsequently headed the FSB?s top-secret UPP/URPO. See below.
58 Felshtinsky & Litvinenko (op.cit., pp. 52-58) make very specific accusations about these Moscow bombings, naming several operatives linked to the FSB.
59 FSO had 44,000 staff in 1996, 40,000 in 1998, and 30,000 in 1999. SBP went down to 900 staff by 1999. In comparison, the KGB 9. ?Guards? Directorate employed 8,700 people. Data from Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 18.
60 Cf. Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 19.
61 Data from M., Beloï knigi rossiïskikh spetssluzhb, 1996.
62 Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 20.
63 Ibid., p. 22.
64 Discussion and quotes from Volkov, op.cit., p. 131-132.
65 This and following quotation from Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 23.
67 Mukhin, op.cit.
68 Bennett, ?The FSB,? p. 23.
69 Ibid., p.29-30.
70 Most information in this section from Bennett, ?The Federal Agency of Government Communications & Information.?
71 All quotes ibid., pp. 6-7, 10-12 and 15.
72 For a detailed account see ibid., pp. 17-19.
73 See Izmailov, ?Za vykup korrespondentov ORT zaplatili $1,000,000? as well as other articles in Novaya Gazeta published at the start of 2000; some details from personal communications to the author.
74 Bennett, ?The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation,? p. 5
75 Thomas, ?Anatoliy Sergeevich Kulikov,? p. 7.
76 Thomas, ?Restructuring and Reform in Russia's MVD: Good Idea, Bad Timing?,? p. 2.
77 Declaration on NTV 06.01.98, cited in Thomas, ?Kulikov,? p. 16.
78 Thomas, ?Restructuring and Reform,? p. 2.
79 Bennett, ?MVD,? p. 8.
80 See Bennett, ?MVD,? pp. 7-14 for a detailed description of each department?s function.
81 For a broad overview of Berezovsky?s career until 2000 and his relations with the Chechens, see the late Paul Klebnikov?s Godfather of the Kremlin, a hostile portrait strongly influenced by Aleksandr Korzhakov, who contributed interesting kompromat such as transcripts of phone conversations between Berezovsky and Udugov.
82 Personal communications to the author.
83 Personal communication to the author.
84 Jensen, ?The Boss,? p. 32.
85 For conflicting accounts of URPO, see Bennett, ?The FSB,? pp. 25-27, Felshtinsky & Litvinenko, op.cit., pp. 32-35, and the page (in Russian) at http://www.agentura.ru/timeline/1998/urpo/.
86 Felshtinsky & Litvinenko, ibid., p. 32.
88 Title of a PhD dissertation by Miriam Lanskoy studying Russian-Chechen relations between the two wars.
89 Klebnikov, op.cit., p. 278.
90 Bykov had sided with Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich in the infamous ?aluminium wars,? against Oleg Deripaska and the Chierny brothers.
91 Interview with Miriam Lanskoy, quoted in Lanskoy, ?War of the Russian Succession,? p. 199.
92 Interview in Le Figaro, 22.09.99, cited in Klebnikov, op.cit., pp.289-291.
93 Lanskoy, op.cit., p. 199.
94 ?Dizzy with success,? The Moscow Times 18.01.00, quoted in Lanskoy, op.cit., pp. 199-200.
95 See Klebnikov, op.cit., p. 304.
96 Russia started the first Chechen war with 40,000 troops.
97 See Lanskoy, op.cit., who quotes most of the relevant interviews pp. 212-214.
98 The Russian press at the time reported that Kvashnin had threatened Yeltsin with insubordination if the campaign was held back; Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, one of the more notorious ?Chechnya generals,? also made loud public comments along the same lines.
99 The only exception is Litvinenko, a hardly surprising fact given his continued proximity to Berezovsky.
100 Most prominently: Litvinenko?s, Satter?s and Klebnikov?s books, Lanskoy?s dissertation, extensive coverage of the subject in Le Monde, an eyewitness account of the Daghestan events by Abdurrashid Saidov, Secrets of the Incursion, and numerous articles from the Russian press, usefully compiled on the website www.compromat.ru. Several documentaries have since been made on the subject, including one (The Assassination of Russia) with funding and support from Berezovsky, who has now turned against Putin.
102 Personal source.
103 Litvinenko demonstrates in his book how not only Federal law but the most basic internal FSB procedures render this cover story technically impossible, op.cit., pp. 97-104. In subsequent chapters, he and Felshtinsky name specific operatives allegedly responsible for blowing up the Moscow buildings, but their evidence is mostly circumstantial and does not come from direct knowledge.
104 Quoted in Lanskoy, op.cit., p. 201.
105 See on this topic Favarel-Garrigues & Rousselet, La société russe en quête d?ordre.
106 Duparc, ?La place des oligarques au centre des interrogations sur le pouvoir Poutine,? Le Monde, 28.03.00
107 Russia sought Berezovsky?s extradition in 2003, but he convinced a British court he would never be allowed a fair trial ? a reasonable argument ? and was granted political asylum in the U.K. There is reason to believe that Berezovsky had long been planning his back-door in case things went sour, and leveraged his 1998 liberation of two British hostages held for 15 months in Chechnya, for whom he paid one and a half million dollars out of his pocket, to secure guarantees from the British government, in effect buying himself an expensive but secure permanent visa. Berezovsky, in exile, helped found an anti-Putin political party, ?Liberal Russia;? publicly accused the FSB of organizing the Moscow terrorist bombings; provides financial support for a number of other exiles such as Litvinenko and Akhmad Zakaev; and in general keeps up his sniping at the Kremlin, while quietly working to secure, protect and even expand the remains of his business empire.
108 The governors were swiftly weakened by losing their place on the Federation Council; in 2004, Putin finally gained full control over them by abolishing gubernatorial elections and granting himself the power to name governors directly. But this question, and the even broader one of Russian federalism, lies beyond the scope of this study. See for ex. Mendras et.al., Comment fonctionne la Russie ?
109 Cf. Petrov, ?The Security Dimension of Federal Reforms.? Over 50% of the new Chief Federal Inspectors come from the KGB/FSB complex; ibid., pp. 14-16.
110 These and following citations, until noted, from Petrov, ibid., pp. 1-3. Petrov?s illuminating article provide extensive data and examples concerning cadre replacement and rotations within the security organs.
111 Petrov, ?The Federation Reform and the Staffing of the Government Service.?
112 The Russian sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaya has systematically studied this process, building up an extensive data base as part of her research.
113 As an example, Viktor Ivanenko, Director of the AFB in 1991, became Vice-President of NK ?Yukos? between 1993 and 1998.
114 Mukhin, op.cit., pp. 17 and passim for lists of names.
115 Petrov, ?The Security Dimension of Federal Reforms,? p. 23.
116 Bennett, ?Vladimir Putin & Russia?s Special Services,? p. 14.
118 Preobrazhensky, ?FSB in charge,? The Moscow Times, 20.03.01.
119 ?Who's really running Russia's Chechnya operation?,? Gazeta.ru, 31.07.03.
120 See, in Russian, the article ?UFSB po Chechenskoï Respublike,? available at http://www.agentura.ru/dossier/russia/regions/ufsb/chechen, as well as Soldatov, ?FSB Reform.? Zachistki, disappearances, illegal executions, and resale of prisoners and of corpses by the Federal Forces in Chechnya and neighboring republics are extensively documented by human rights organizations such as HRW or Memorial, whose reports have been partially corroborated by the Chechen administration of A. Kadyrov and A. Alkhanov.
121 Cf. Ingushetia.ru 31.03.04, available at http://www.agentura.ru/dossier/russia/fsb/structure/okusk.
122 See Bennett, ?Vladimir Putin & Russia?s Special Services,? p. 18 and p. 30, and his ?FAPSI,? pp. 20-21.
123 ?Court Issues Free Pass to Kill Civilians,? The Moscow Times editorial, 24.05.05.
124 Most of these journalists worked for either Moskovskie Novosti or Novaya Gazeta. See in the bibliography the articles by Izmailov, Kaliyev, Khadikov, and Shermatova & Nikitinsky.
125 As an example, we could cite the following incident which occurred in the spring of 2000 near Alkhan-Kala: an MO checkpoint sold weapons and ammunition to Chechen rebels, on condition that they only attack the MVD checkpoint down the road; when the hapless MVD soldiers, under fire, radioed for reinforcements, the Army troops failed to respond (personal communication to the author).
126 Personal communication to the author.
127 Cf. the articles referred to above. Such a vast sum of money, $12 million vs. the $10 million offered by the hapless engineers? employers, was of course not spent only for propaganda purposes. Baraev was closely linked to Salavdi Abdurzakov, the owner of the Chechen mobile phone company BiTel, whose lucrative monopoly the Granger engineers were threatening. Abdurzakov?s system, as discussed earlier, worked through a FAPSI satellite, and while some FAPSI generals certainly had a personal stake in the matter, the special services also had a genuine security interest in being able to easily monitor Chechen mobile phone communications. It should also be noted that some sources hold that two of the murdered engineers were in fact undercover British agents. If indeed the FSB, on its own or together with other services, ?bid? for the engineers? deaths, the decision-making process must have been influenced as much by private, commercial considerations as by operational and political ones, illustrating the inextricable mingling of all these levels in the Chechen kidnapping business.
128 This account has been compiled from numerous media reports as well as personal information of the author.
129 Dunlop, ?The October 2002 Moscow Hostage-Taking Incident.?
130 Milashina, ?Kto I kak prinimal resheniya v Beslane,? Novaya Gazeta, 15.04.05, as well as ?Report: Beslan HQ was Run by Others,? The Moscow Times, 15.04.05.
132 Bennett, ?Vladimir Putin & Russia?s Special Services,? p. 15.
133 Ibid., p. 21-22.
134 ?Russian Spies, They?ve Got Mail,? Washington Post, 06.03.02.
135 All following information and citations, unless noted, from Bennett, ?Vladimir Putin & Russia?s Special Services,? pp. 15-16.
136 ?Fradkov Asks Spies for Economic Aid,? The Moscow Times, 31.01.05.
137 All information until noted from Bennett, ?The FSB,? pp. 31-33, which provides a more detailed discussion.
138 Of the fifteen original Soviet Republics, the three Baltic states refused to join the CIS.
139 Information until noted from Bennett, ?Vladimir Putin & Russia?s Special Services,? pp. 31-36, which provides a more detailed discussion.
140 According to reliable Chechen sources, most of the movements of Chechen fighters between Georgia and Russia took place through bribed Russian checkpoints, in vehicles, rather than on foot over the mountains.
141 For a discussion of foreign intelligence activities in the Caucasus, strongly reflecting the official FSB viewpoint, see the first article in Mukhin, Deyatel?nost? Spetssluzhb v Rossii.
142 See Bennett, ?Vladimir Putin & Russia?s Special Services,? pp. 19-20.
143 Information from ibid., pp. 36-37.
144 Information and quotes from Petrov, op.cit., p. 8.
145 See Petrov, op.cit., p. 9.
146 Cited in Kaliyev, ?Can ?Power Ministries? be Reformed?? p. 2.
147 See Mukhin, Deyatel?nost? Spetssluzhb v Rossii, second article.
148 Kommersant, 26.03.03, cited in ibid., p. 15.
149 ?Federal Guard Service Linked to Kasyanov Case,? The Moscow Times, 02.08.05.
150 Petrov, op.cit., p. 23.
151 Mukhin, ibid., pp. 18-19.
152 Yablokova, Oksana, ?Drug Enforcers Sharply Criticized,? The Moscow Times, 21.09.05.
153 This and following citations from ibid.
154 Mukhin, ibid., p. 21.
155 Petrov, op.cit., p. 4.
156 Quotations and most information in the following paragraph from Soldatov, ?FSB Reform;? some information from agentura.ru.
157 According to Petrov, op.cit., pp. 11-12, ?the proportion of ?locals? to ?outsiders? among the regional police chiefs in predominantly Russian regions was 1:1, in the ethnic republic and districts ? almost 4:1. [?] Now the ratio is 1:1 in the ethnic republics and districts and one local to two foreigners in other regions.?
158 ?Business Russe,? Le Monde, 24.02.05.
160 Le Vif/L?Express, 04.03.05.
161 ?Fradkov asks Spies for Economic Aid,? The Moscow Times, 31.01.05, and ?Police Force Gets a Dressing Down,? The Moscow Times, 17.02.05.
162 Putin, First Person, pp. 22-23 and 41-43.
163 ?Chechen Leader Gives Exclusive Interview to RFE/RL,? RFE/RL, 07.03.05.
164 Medetsky, Anatoly, and Schreck, Karl, ?Mothers Win Pledge but No Apology,? The Moscow Times, 05.09.05
To quote this document :
Jonathan Littell, "The Security Organs of the Russian Federation (The text only)",
Post-Soviet Armies Newsletter,